No One Can Force You To Make Good Choices

If there’s one thing the pandemic has demonstrated, it is agreements aren’t nearly as rigid as conventional wisdom dictates. At the same time, they’re only as flexible as the people involved, the choices they make, and the process they embrace.

Tomorrow’s post will be the inaugural episode for Season 2 of Shop Talk, it features a candid discussion with executive decision makers and musician representatives from the Toledo Symphony, a group that made the decision to fulfill all their contractual financial obligations to musicians throughout the entire pandemic.

We talk about how the TSO determined ongoing artistic activity, and therefore expenses, would benefit the organization along with expectations vs. the reality of the negotiation process.

Key to the conversation is when we examine choices the organization’s stakeholders made at numerous waypoints that could have torpedoed success. I can’t think of a better way to kick off Season 2.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for the full episode. If you were a subscriber, you already received a notice with an early access link.

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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