This Is How You Draw A Line In The Sand

Back in March, I published some early thoughts on what at the time was the growing number of arts and culture organizations cutting ties with artists who are supporters of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

At that time, arts organizations weren’t terribly clear about why they found actions by artists like conductor Valery Gergiev unacceptable. I hinted at posting some additional thoughts about my concerns related to virtue signaling and artists being unfairly targeted, but an extended bout of illness put that behind schedule.

During the interim, Anna Tarassova wrote an article for the 4/14/22 edition of Van Magazine that makes clear much of what I had on my mind about why some artists deserve scrutiny.

It’s an excellent resource that clearly defines why artists like Gergiev rise to the level of being ostracized for their support of Vladimir Putin. While this wasn’t the first time Van Magazine raised red flags about the Gergiev-Putin relationship, it does serve as something of an initial wakeup call to all arts organizations about the value of due diligence.

It’s worth pointing out that Tarassova is a pseudonym to protect the Russian journalist from reprisals, I applaud the editors of Van Magazine for extending that well deserved protection in order to facilitate the deeper conversation. In case you missed the article when it came out, do yourself a favor and give it a read. It should also serve as a stark reminder about why nonprofit compensation transparency laws exist in the first place.

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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