AGMA Whistleblower Steps Forward

The 3/2/2020 edition of NPR Music published an article by Anastasia Tsioulcas that takes a thorough look into the allegations of quid pro quo in the form of American Guild of Musical Artists’ (AGMA) silence in exchange for a $500,000 settlement payment from Plácido Domingo.

At the end of February 2020, news leaked that AGMA’s investigation into allegations that Domingo abused his positions of authority and engaged in multiple counts of sexual misconduct with subordinates and colleagues concluded a large number of allegations were credible.

Reportedly, AGMA did not intend to release those findings and the leak caught them entirely unprepared.

Tsioulcas’ article confirms the information came from Samuel Schultz, a baritone singer and now a former AGMA vice president.

If Schultz’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he was the victim of an alleged sexual assault committed by countertenor David Daniels.

In the wake of that incident, Schultz was compelled to run for office inside AGMA.

Schultz ran for AGMA office last year specifically on a platform of keeping the union and its signatories accountable regarding sexual harassment and misconduct. “No more cover-ups, no more looking the other way, no more silence,” he wrote in his campaign message.

According to the NPR article, Schultz became dismayed when AGMA leadership began advocating for a settlement with Domingo that would preclude them from releasing the results of their investigation.

This did not sit well with Schultz. As a result, he opted for the whistleblower route.

While AGMA’s executive director, Leonard Egert, took issue with Schultz’s characterization of the settlement, he doesn’t deny the nondisclosure clause. Instead, he pivoted toward accusing Schultz of “breaching his duties to AGMA” by providing a copy of the report to the press.

It’s difficult to imagine AGMA will walk away from this unscathed and in an apparent nod that support’s Schultz’s claim about the deal being more about protecting Domingo than the alleged victims, the opera star walked back an earlier apology that offered contrition, but fell short of admitting any wrongdoing. Domingo’s revised statement was decidedly defiant in tone.

“I have never behaved aggressively toward anyone, and I have never done anything to obstruct or hurt anyone’s career in any way.”

Moving forward, AGMA will need to decide if they will move forward with their prescribed disciplinary hearing and potentially impose a fine on Domingo.

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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