State Of Employment Poll & Review August 31 – September 6

The upcoming week is traditionally the last week of the summer season and most groups are either getting into 20/21 season activity. Consequently, this week will be the final week for the poll in its current format so please encourage your friends and colleagues to submit a response.

Moving forward, I’ve been putting together an updated version of the poll that will measure who stakeholder employment status continues to evolve as groups begin finalizing plans through the end of the calendar year. I strongly encourage readers to reach out with ideas and/or suggestions about what you would like to see the poll measure.

Weekly Report

Responses from Administrators continue do show respondents leveling out into three primary groups: unemployed, underemployed, and employed. As the field emerges into what is traditionally the opening of the season, it is only employing approximately 25 percent of administrators at regular pay and hours.

Among Salaried musicians the small uptick in status at both ends of the employment spectrum abruptly reversed course this week leaving an almost even split between not drawing a salary but have health care benefits and being paid a reduced salary.

The total number of Per-service musicians responding this week took a sharp drop. Nonetheless, the ratio of employment status among respondents remained mostly steady, albeit a small drop in those indicating they were being paid the full amount for any cancelled services and those who have not lost any income due to cancelled services.

You can track the per week and cumulative totals along with all of the stakeholder charts at the Orchestra Stakeholder Employment Status During Coronavirus Shutdowns Google Sheet.

This Week’s Poll

  • For staffers and managers, the questions are straightforward. Music directors (employee or independent contractor status) and staff conductor positions should respond as an administrator.
  • For musicians, questions are specialized for salary and per-service level musicians. While there are certainly musicians that fall between those groups, I’m asking that you use your best judgement to select answers that best represent your current work status.
  • Each weekly poll will allow you to submit one reply. Having said that, it is important for each respondent to return the following week in order to confirm or update your status with a new reply. Doing so will provide an even clearer sense of how things change from week to week.

If you have not yet submitted a response this week, please take a moment to submit your status below. The more submissions we have, the better the data represents current conditions. To that end, we’ll be collecting results through Sunday for this week’s totals so if you have yet to submit a response, please take a moment to do so.

Likewise, submitting a response each week goes a long way toward tracking major changes in status. So, thank you in advance for taking part and encouraging your friends and colleagues to do the same.

This Survey has expired.

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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