Your Tour Has Daddy Issues

The 12/16/2019 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an article written by Jeremy Reynolds that takes a hard look at the pros and cons of international touring. As a conduit for discussion, the article uses recent Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) excursions.

RAirlinesegular readers know this was a popular topic in the blog’s early years and while I haven’t written about it in a while, my perspective remains mostly unchanged. In a nutshell, it’s a good thing, but only inasmuch as the value can be quantified.

The other major quibble I have is the emphasis on international tours that focus on the well-worn European halls and destinations.

The Post-Gazette article includes a quote from me that touches on the desire for US orchestras wanting to return to their roots.

“To me, this all harkens back to the fact that the American orchestral scene evolved out of the European scene,” Mr. McManus said. “The American orchestra scene has serious daddy issues.”

Mr. McManus doesn’t argue that orchestras shouldn’t tour, and he doesn’t dispute that there are reputational benefits. But he believes the value of touring should be more quantifiable.

That pretty much wraps it up in a neat little bow.

But I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you think international touring provides quantifiable benefits beyond lifting reputation or other similarly indeterminate benchmarks?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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