Why Non-Artistic Duties And Responsibilities Are More Important Now Than Ever

Even before coronavirus shutdowns, music director compensation was a hot topic, but the current environment introduces a new layer when the issue of shared sacrifice enters the picture.

And while there’s plenty of good material to examine regarding releasing enough details for patrons to decide just how evenly sacrifices are shared, that’s not what this post is about.

Instead, it’s about a music director’s ability to earn their keep, so to speak, by way of flexing their non-artistic fundraising and engagement muscles.

For decades, I’ve stood on a virtual soapbox espousing the need for orchestras to enhance their efforts at clearly defining non-artistic music director duties and responsibilities.

Doing so provides the basic building blocks for valuating what a music director contributes along with providing a framework for fair and meaningful evaluation efforts.

In return, it helps the music director do a better job at compartmentalizing their workload and refining requisite skills. The better they are at that compartmentalization, the more effective they will be when the organization is navigating emergency conditions…like everyone is in right now.

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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