Well This Was Unexpected

Of all the news items I expected to see over the weekend, one that was no where near my radar was the surprise from Joshua Kosman reporting that Mark C. Hanson, CEO of the San Francisco Symphony, will step down from the position Aug. 31, 2021.

“The San Francisco Symphony is a dynamic organization, and it has been a true honor to lead them through complex transitions and challenges,” he said in a written statement. “With the San Francisco Symphony now back up and performing as a full ensemble for live audiences following our successful pandemic pivots, I have decided that this is the right time to pursue my next professional opportunity within a different environment.”

To say the least, this sort of abrupt departure raises all kinds of eyebrows. They appointed a new music director, engaged in streaming performances, and avoided extended periods of going dark.

It will be interesting to see if additional details emerge but there’s no denying that sudden departures tend to have more going on under the surface.

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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