Apparently, Orchestras Are Among The Most Midwestern Things On The Planet

I know exactly where your orchestra should build its next venue: between a popular fishing hole and Amish country in a county with high Lutheran population…oh, and in the winter months, those fields needs snowmobiling trails. #BigDataUsedBadly

Seriously though, an article by Andrew Van Dam in the 8/8/2022 edition of the Washington Post provides some fascinating data obtained after sifting through thousands of Airbnb listings to see how Midwesterners identify as defining characteristics.

What they discovered is while fishing related terms dominate sales copy, “Conservatory” took the #3 spot while “Orchestra” came in at #11, two spots higher than “Snowmobile” and three spots higher than “Amish.”

Another fascinating aspect to the article is how the author demonstrates the way big data should be used in that it inspires questions as much as, if not more than, providing answers.

Two of the next three most-Midwestern words, “Heartland” and “Lutheran,” seem like gimmes. One’s a synonym for Midwestern, and — in the minds of many — the other might as well be. “Conservatory” and “orchestra” seem odd, but Google Trends confirms that both are unusually popular in Midwestern states. If you think you know why, let us know!

If you think you have an answer, write to Van Dam via that link and let him know!

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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