A Time For Wellness

I decided to move the articles originally scheduled for yesterday and today to next week. Considering the insurrection in Washington D.C., they are simply too disconnected. Instead, I want to focus today’s post on the need for wellness.

If there was ever a time to remember music’s value as a coping mechanism, it’s now. To that end, I want to highlight an initiative in development at the Wichita Symphony that focuses on mental health. The as of yet unnamed program was previewed in a 1/1/2021 article from Wichita Symphony Concertmaster and Partner for Audience Engagement, Holly Mulcahy.

While I was in Wichita in November for the symphony concerts, I met with several patrons and donors for coffees and lunches, outside and distanced of course. At each of these gatherings there seemed to be a common thread. People, unprompted, mentioned that they were concerned about their mental health in the coming months…so, during the next several weeks there will be a weekly [online program featuring]…musical offerings and some chats and interviews, along with some points to ponder. Each week will be a new discovery, a new point to pause and appreciate how music can affect you in new ways. The aim of finding solace, a place to pause, and a point to breathe and hopefully something interesting to think upon is our goal, although people might find entirely different purposes and that’s just fine, too.

Not only will we be sharing music in a calming, intentional, and healing manner, our aim will also be to give the seasoned listener a new and more deliberate way of listening to music. And for the new listener, this will be an invitation and introduction into a rich and fulfilling world of music that we hope will entice more exploration into it.

Joining and guiding me will be Meg Beck, MME, Music Therapist of Larksfield Place Retirement Communities, Inc., Dr. Shannon Loeck, KU-Wichita Psychiatrist and Emergency Psychiatry Liaison to Ascension Via Christi, and Dr. James Vayda, Assistant Director Ascension/Via Chrisit ER.

Wichita Symphony Music Director, Daniel Hege and I will be leading discussions, curating musical offerings, and interacting with Meg, Shannon, and Jim, along with several musical guests, as we explore ways music can be used in a wellness and selfcare manner.

Even though Holly is developing this program in a space two rooms away, I haven’t been privy to any details she and her colleagues are forming. Consequently, I’m just as anxious as anyone to see what develops.

In the end, this is an excellent example of how orchestras can go about creating meaningful ways to remain connected to existing patrons, develop new audience members, and partner with other professionals and institutions.

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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