Orchestra Admin Employment Status Update Survey Results

First and foremost, I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who took the time to submit a response for the employment status update survey. It’s not easy to talk about the pressures of looking for work, which makes this terrific response that much more meaningful.

Just over 100 responses arrived and according to that information, finding work after being laid off, furloughed, or seeing your position eliminated during pandemic shutdowns is a persistent challenge.

When asked to select the option that best represents your current employment status, 2/3 of respondents indicated that have yet to find a new position. Among those who found new positions, 1/3 have left the field entirely.

Among those who found new positions, the results are fascinating. 1/3 have left the field entirely while slightly more than half earn within 15 percent of their previous annual compensation. Only 14 percent managed to find a job that paid more while nearly 30 percent have taken a position that pays demonstrably less.

Among those still looking for work, where they are looking for work isn’t focused primarily on remaining in the orchestra field. 63 percent are searching for work in any field but it’s tough to miss 10 percent are not interested in returning to orchestra administration and actively seeking positions elsewhere.

In Their Own Words

Respondents were given an opportunity to indicate their employment status by submitting a free-form response as an alternative to the provided options. Here’s what they said:

“I’m planning to go back to full-time very soon.”

“I was temporarily laid off in April, brought back at 75% mid -April through August, and now full time since Sept but because I have absorbed another former staffer’s full time workload, in addition to my own.”

“While I want to find work at another orchestra, I just can’t. Even before the pandemic, I would cry a few times a month and I just don’t see things getting better if I returned.”

“I’ve had two interviews since being laid off and I can’t understand why orchestras that have everyone working from home still insist on hiring someone who lives in their city. Why do they expect someone to relocate right away for a remote working situation?”

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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