The Dismantling Of Middle League Orchestras

We all hear a great deal of opinion about the current “crisis” in classical music and this blog has been no exception. But I do get a fair amount of feedback from readers that think I’m overstating the issue.  I hear a great deal about how this industry has always had its ups and downs and that people have been proclaiming the death of classical music for decades, but it is still obviously around.  And in many instances those observations are right on target, so why should now be any different?

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The captain always goes down with the ship right?

I was relieved to hear the recent news that the San Antonio Symphony is going to get back to the business of making music. When reading about the news in the San Antonio Express I noticed that the players would not be paid for the entire 2003-2004 season and receive no benefits. Their new salary will be reduced about 30%, from $33,150 down to $23,400 annually, with decreased benefits. Then I …

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What We Need Is Another Henry Ford

In 1914 Henry Ford instituted his new process of mass production. His financial backers were insisting that he follow the industry trends and hand build cars designed for the elite in society. They wanted him to hire managers with “conventional” experience in this growing industry. Henry told them to take a hike and put his money, reputation, and livelihood on the line to do it his way. He was on a …

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Lack of interest

Problem: I recently learned that an Executive Director of a small orchestra left her position to work as a development director for managed care facility. How are these two businesses related? They aren’t.

A leading problem in this industry is there are too many managers that have no real stake in the medium of performing arts, specifically orchestras. Several recent studies regarding the current crisis in the orchestra industry, list administrative turnover as a significant impediment to improving the current situation. They go on to state that the reasons for such a high turnover rate are insignificant pay coupled with a difficult working environment. Conventional business wisdom states that you have to pay orchestra managers an equivalent to their for-profit counterparts in order to retain quality individuals. The resulting solution has been higher and higher executive salaries.

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