A Sad Day: Terry Teachout Has Died

We’ve lost so many good people from the arts and culture sector over the pandemic but the news of Terry Teachout’s passing is especially sad.

I was fortunate enough to begin communicating with Terry in the early 2000’s and our email exchanges were always thought provoking. You just knew it was going to be an interesting day when a message from Terry about something you wrote arrived in your inbox.

While he was a juggernaut of traditional media culture journalists, it was delightful to see him join Twitter. The truncated medium didn’t dilute his impact and if anything, offered a much more satisfying insight into his wit and personality.

I can’t think of anyone who better exemplified what it is to be a thoughtful disrupter when it came to the business end of the arts and culture sector. He was an early adopter of the blogging format and didn’t look down on those of us from outside the traditional arts journalist path who started using the medium in the early 2000s. He not only encouraged my own writing early on but extended a generous open invitation to reach out with questions and feedback.

Over the years, his writing served as the launching pad for dozens of articles here at Adaptistration and I found his willingness to cast a hungry eye toward entire herds of sacred cows inspiring.

Even when I didn’t agree with one of his positions, he never once took it as a personal attack and routinely engaged in thoughtful exchanges on the topic. In an age where even marginal disagreements inspire viscous enmity, this temperament will be sorely missed.

There is so much one could write about Terry and it’s heartening to see so many wonderful tributes. While written words can feel so empty at a time like this, it would be unforgivable not to mention that crossing Terry’s path left me a better professional and person. His presence and contributions will be deeply missed.

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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A Sad Day: Terry Teachout Has Died