How To Be “That Guy” In Arts Administration

The past several days (months?) have been a trying time but that doesn’t mean things are beyond our control or ability to influence. To that end, efforts like #BlackoutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused have garnered a great deal of participation among performing arts organizations.

At the same time, it’s good to be honest and to that end, ArtsAdminSay posted a tweet that cuts deep

If you’ve ever wondered where your organization’s credibility stands on these issues, see if your standard operating procedure aligns with that checklist. If so, you may want to consider reevaluating.

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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