It’s Time To Get Political

Now that the national election appears to be on in earnest, it’s time for arts advocacy groups and arts supporters to begin holding elected officials accountable for their position on the arts and arts funding.

It’s no secret where the current administration stands on the arts: with its figurative shoe planted on its throat. Consequently, that choice should be self-evident.

But there are plenty of other political races to watch, such as Senator Martha McSally, who was appointed to a vacant seat even after losing a race for the state’s other Senate election in 2018.

If McSally’s name rings a bell, that’s because she has been a driving force behind efforts to gut the US Armed Forces music programs.

McSally has a consistent track record of open hostility toward military musicians and has no problem publicly denigrating their value and the music program’s mission. If elected to the Senate, she’ll be in an even stronger position to see her plans to fruition.

Given the number of new candidates throughout the country, it’s important to ask them about their position on arts and arts funding. If they don’t have an arts and culture platform, push them to get one. If they’re an incumbent, look into their NEA funding vote history.

Perhaps most importantly, be sure to do as much as you can to help register new voters and encourage them to vote safely.

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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