#TBT Polarization And Governance

Back in July, 2014 I published a post about what I defined as the end of the golden age of orchestras and opera. I came to that conclusion, in part, because of the sharp increase in neoreactionary dominated culture.

Within that context, neoreactionaries were those who cast themselves as victims within a larger operating environment and believe they are somehow tasked with a principled responsibility to right the wrongs for a secure future or face certain collapse.

“Generally, neoreactionaries tend to occupy a fringe element within each of the field’s traditional stakeholder groups that directly influence institutional policy (board, administration, and artists) but the perilous bit of historical transition at play here is how fear of the unknown can cripple an otherwise effective system of self-regulation that usually keeps counterproductive actions at bay.”

The Golden Age Of Orchestras & Operas Are At An End

We examined the characteristics of both executive and labor neoreactionaries; and keep in mind, this was a full year and half before the 2016 national election. At the time, those extreme voices were still emerging from being relegated as minorities and it was unknown how much influence they may wield in the years ahead.

I cautioned against allowing these voices from dominating conversations on governance lest the field risk the potential of entering an age of what the tech sector defines as dark enlightenment, or the overt rejection of advances made during a period of Golden Age advances.

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I can’t say we missed that bear trap. Can you?

At the same time, now that we’re a year past the Trump administration and in a better place now with the pandemic than this time last year, I’m curious to know where you think things are headed.

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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