I Go To The Symphony For Their Executive Director?

I have to take a moment and rant about something. When did it become popular to have a biography or message from the orchestra executive director? Not just a listing in a staff directory, but a dedicated biography.  I went to the following orchestra web sites: Richmond Symphony, Rockford Symphony, Green Bay Symphony, and Chattanooga Symphony. They all have biographies about their executive directors but absolutely no information about any of the orchestra musicians (with the exception of the Rockford Symphony, which provides a biography of the concertmaster).

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Lack of Interest: Reader Response

I received the following observation from one of our readers regarding the recent “Lack of Interest” blog. I think it is worthwhile to share because the individual currently holds an administrative position in a major Midwest orchestra. Concerning the issues of finding orchestra management candidates with experience outside of typical industry practice and education, they have this to say: “This is the first orchestra I’ve worked for, and I’m amazed at …

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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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Ripe for change in Louisville

The Louisville Orchestra has seen a bad year. They nearly filled for chapter 7 bankruptcy, but were saved during the 11th hour by a $465,000 pledge by the Home Builders Association of Louisville, contract concessions by the musicians, and fundraising efforts by the board. Since then, orchestra leadership has abandoned ship. Management is currently without an Executive Director, a Director of Development, a Director of Marketing & Public Relations, a Public Relations Manager, an Operations Manager, as well as several staff positions in the development, marketing and education departments.

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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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