The Age Of Force Majeure

Perhaps you’re one of the fortunate ones who doesn’t have to set aside much time planning for potential cancellations or postponements due to covid-19; but for everyone else, you should be taking a very close look at the force majeure clause in all of your agreements.

One of the more financially pressing agreements will be your collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

While stereotypical conventional thinking may dictate these agreements are mostly the same from one group to the next, that’s hardly the case. And force majeure clauses are an excellent example of just how much variety actually exists.

Joe Patti wrote a good article about altering and amending contracts for in July, 2019 that includes an excellent section on force majeure. While it focuses mainly on agreements with venues or service providers, there are plenty of solid pointers.

Having said that, labor contracts can be a different ball of wax.

Keep in mind, this blog post is not legal advice and you should not make decisions related to your CBA within this context without first contacting the association’s attorney in order to determine the interpretation and understanding of your force majeure clause.

Ideally, both parties have taken the time to craft very specific language that leaves little to no room for interpretation.

Regardless if it works for or against your interests within the context of convid-19 scenarios is beside the point.

The value of removing conflict during a period of high anxiety is worth it.

To that end, you should also keep an open line of communication with your committee. Good faith efforts go a long way toward maximizing flexibility.

Ultimately, it’s worth keeping in mind that everyone is on edge so going out of your way to deescalate tension will be repaid with far better likelihood for solutions that all stakeholders can get behind.

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.

Related Posts