More Under The Heading “Not Everyone Is Cancelling”

The Seattle Symphony Orchestra (SSO) recently announced plans to begin performing live concerts via streaming platform as a cornerstone of 20/21 activity.

If their county government engages Phase 4 of their reopening strategy during the season, they plan on introducing in-person audience live concerts.

According to the SSO’s press statement, streamed performances will include guest artists although none were named.

Programs will feature onstage performances with socially distanced Seattle Symphony musicians and guest artists…The modified 2020–2021 season will include changes to the previously announced season, including revisions to the concert schedule, guest artist lineup and programming; further updates to come in late August.

They also confirmed the musicians have agreed to a 50 percent reduced salary for the 20/21 season while executive administrators and the music director are only reducing wages by 30 percent. There was no mention of specific staff cuts other than most have had work hours cut by 50 percent and/or been placed on a euphemism-heavy “Standby or SharedWork plans.”

Details about actual programming and artists is expected by the end of August.

Unless those plans change, this makes the SSO one of the latest orchestras to opt for doing something other than nothing for 20/21.

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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