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Change can be difficult. Change can be turbulent. Change can be painful.
Change brings success. Change brings order. Change brings comfort.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, CHANGE IS NECESSARY FOR SURVIVAL. 

Making things right is a time consuming process and just when you think all the pieces are finally in place, something comes along to knock them all down. Since the beginning of the decade, the environment of orchestra management has fundamentally changed. The task ahead is survival, and that survival will be based on how well orchestra management is able to adapt and evolve. This weblog is designed to present ideas and create a forum to help accelerate that evolutionary process.

ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT IS THE KEY

With the current round of difficult times, many organizations are caught at the crossroads of artistic success vs. financial and operational impasse.

To most, the inner workings of an orchestra are a mystery, but how an orchestra manages itself is linked directly to the artistic success of that organization. With the current round of difficult times, many organizations are caught at the crossroads of artistic success vs. financial and operational impasse. Orchestra management has grown stale, reactionary, and in extreme cases, exploitative.The results have ranged form modest budget adjustments to organizational collapse. Nonetheless, it is clear that the business of orchestral management is in serious need of reform.

The ideas and proposals presented in these writings may arguably be considered unconventional. They are designed to problem solve by identifying “what’s wrong” and present solutions about “how to fix it” based on my extensive experience and work in this field. Much like the title of this blog, I expect this “manifesto” to evolve over time. With your input, it will grow into something meaningful. Please feel free to send along any ideas, comments, or criticisms. I plan to post them on a regular basis.

EDITORIAL COMMITMENT

In order to ensure accuracy and provide a comprehensive perspective on any topic, I allow any individual or person officially representing an organization that appears in any Adaptistration article to submit a response which will be published, unedited. Responses are limited to 200 words and must address the issues at hand and the individuals and/or organizations must also be willing to maintain an open dialog for continued discussion.

Hi. I’M DREW MCMANUS, THE ORCHESTRA INSIDER.
I work as an arts consultant in Chicago, IL. I’m the author of this blog.
There has never been a better time to be in the orchestra business. Really.

OVERVIEW

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 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, and love a good coffee drink.

MEDIA REPUTATION

Mr. McManus is regularly quoted as an orchestra business expert in traditional media outlets such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dallas Daily News, The Guardian Unlimited, and the Melbourne Age. Mr. McManus has been a guest on national radio programs such as NPR’s All Things Considered and WNYC’s Soundcheck.

INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE

In the summer of 2008, Mr. McManus traveled to Doha, Qatar to serve as the lead consultant in developing a comprehensive organizational and operational model for a $60 million orchestra and music academy project.

Drew in Qatar

In 2008 Drew traveled to Doha, Qatar to serve as the lead consultant in developing a comprehensive organizational and operational model for a $60 million philharmonic orchestra and music academy project.

The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is a private, chartered, nonprofit organization, founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar. Selected from a a wide range of international firms in a competitive bidding process, Mr. McManus organized and managed a team of existing Foundation personnel to review the proposed mission goals for the Western and Arabic ensembles as well as the academy. The initial work consisted of more than 30 individual interviews and reviewing extensive amounts of existing documentation. After becoming fully versed in the Qataris needs,program goals, and the cultural working environment, a final program was completed drawing from international best practices that best suited the challenges facing the program while also creating many new systems of operation that satisfied unique Qatari needs.

The project concluded with a four day long Governing Board retreat where Mr. McManus enlightened members about the variety of governance models across all countries which support a culture of professional Western European orchestras. Afterward, Mr. McManus took the members though their new operational bylaws and the music program’s new strategic plan. After a period of positive discussion, the Governing Board unanimously adopted 100 percent of recommendations contained in the final report.

In 2005, Mr. McManus was among the first U.S. cultural administrators and journalists to spend more than a full week in Caracas, Venezuela as an official guest of the government to study the Fundacion del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de las Orquestras Juveniles e Infantiles, commonly referred to as “El Sistema,” which resulted in the first detailed series of articles in the U.S. highlighting the program and its accomplishments.

LEADERSHIP

As the founder and president of the Gynecologic Cancer Fund, he has a singular understanding of governance issues and six-figure development experience as an executive board officer. His charity has returned over 85% of gross proceeds to its beneficiaries since its establishment in 1998; the highest return of any 501(c)3 in the state of Maryland.

Currently, Mr. McManus serves as a mentor for Pentacle’s Help Desk® program which supports the professional infrastructure of dance companies and independent choreographers; and works with participants to develop a strong sense of community and empowerment. Participants are paired with a mentor based on an application process that includes submission of written materials and meetings with Pentacle staff. Each participant works with a mentor to articulate the goals of the organization, determine strategies for attaining the goals and guidance in areas of infrastructure support.

EXECUTIVE COMPETENCE

Drew McManusMr. McManus is a conservatory trained musician from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, MD. He holds degrees in tuba performance as well as regular work on the piano, arranging, and conducting.

As an administrator Mr. McManus founded and served as the Executive Director for the Baltimore Virtuosi, Baltimore’s premier chamber orchestra, from 1998-2003. Since its inception he managed the organization to consistently operate in the black while never reducing its artistic budget. By approaching the business of orchestra management with flexible, revolutionary techniques that benefit all stakeholders, he has been able to “do more with less”.

From January, 2006 through January, 2007 he served as Senior Editor for Eastman School of Music’s Polyphonic.org project where his responsibilities included securing and creating original content for the website, developing and implementing the editorial strategy of the website, designing and implementing special website features as well as creating and moderating the ground breaking “Virtual Discussion Panel” format.

In the fall of 2010, Mr. McManus started serving as Managing Director of the HEARTbeats Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization which strives to help children in need harness the power of music to better cope with, and recover from, the extreme challenges of poverty and conflict. Mr. McManus donates his administrative services in order to help advance the foundation’s cause.

COMMITMENT

In the same year, hours after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast Region, Mr. McManus established an extensive relief effort at Adaptistration to aid displaced musicians. Over 300 offers providing shelter, direct aid, and work opportunities from across the country resulted in more than 60 musicians and managers finding temporary or long term solutions until they could return to their homes. Relief efforts featured in a Sunday edition of the New York Times and served as the subject of a special American Symphony Orchestra League emergency bulletin.

When he isn’t working 10 hour days, Mr. McManus spends time with his wife enjoying everything Chicagoland has to offer, avoids cutting off his fingers while pursing his love for woodworking, keeping his coffee habit under control, and playing with his three cats; Carmen, Tosca, and Cody.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

You can find additional details about Mr. McManus’ consulting services at orchestraconsulting.com where you’ll find an extended biography, philosophy on the business, and what he has to offer as an orchestra consultant and as a lecturer.

In the fall of 2010 Mr. McManus launched the Venture Platform, a revolutionary business builder service designed especially for arts organizations. Venture provides a comprehensive website architecture and email marketing platform within a hosted and fully supported environment.

Adaptistration Policy

OPINIONS

Any opinions expressed at Adaptistration, except as specifically noted, are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the blogmaster. The blogmaster is not responsible for the accuracy of information supplied by authors or by third-party sources.

COMMENTS

Comments are welcome and moderated by the respective article’s author. Commentary, opinions, and reactions to all comment posts are welcome. The authors, as well as the blogmaster, reserve the right to delete comments to their respective articles deemed uncivil, off-topic, spam, or inappropriate advertisements and/or promotion.

Anonymous comments are allowed; however, any comments submitted without a working email address to verify legitimacy will likely be deleted without warning or subsequent notice. In order to submit a comment that protects your identity, please use a moniker for the “name” field but leave an email address where you can be reached so as to verify the legitimacy of your comment. Please note that if you use a service such as gravatar that assigns an avatar based on a specific email address and you use that address when submitting your comment, it will still display your avatar even though you use a moniker for your name.

EQUAL TIME GUARANTEE

In order to ensure accuracy and that every side to each issue is explored in detail, any individual or person officially representing an organization featured in an Adaptistration article is allowed to submit a response which will be published, unedited. Responses are limited to 200 words and must address the issues at hand and the individuals and/or organizations must also be willing to maintain an open dialog for continued discussion. In lieu of this option, individuals may opt for submitting a comment, which is subject to the terms above.

PROFESSIONAL DISCLOSURE

Given the author’s position as an arts consultant and technology provider, he does not publish articles examining or focusing on current clients without first obtaining the client’s written permission.

The Adaptistration Network is owned and by Drew McManus LLC.