Breaking news (tomorrow)

Update :

Communications staff forwarded answers to me yesterday evening.

Update 2:

I’ll be listening by iPhone (thank you Apple and Dan) and posting later today.

The Seattle Symphony issued a media advisory this afternoon, announci ng that Leslie Jackson Chihuly (Seattle Symphony Board Chair) will hold a media advisory tomorrow at the Olympic Fairmount Hotel.  Finally.  While the advisory describes the event as an opportunity for Jackson to share the board’s five-year plan for the orchestra.  By the end, I hope we will actually have a plan that is more than just a theme and variation on the stalled contract negotiations with the musicians.

This new level of transparency is good news for the orchestra.  As I dug around trying to answer basic questions like: what is the vision for the orchestra?  I kept running into dead ends, off the record sources, and a general unwillingness to actually dialogue about the future of the SSO.  Regardless of one’s opinion on management’s last, best proposal to musicians, the classical music and arts community loves the SSO and we all want it to succeed.  Whenever possible, I impressed on staff at the SSO and its musicians that we should be talking about the orchestras as a community. Conversations about the artistic vision for the orchestra should be broadly framed and held in public.

Not talking left me with a negative impression and a sinking feeling that neither the board nor management at best, had thought about the future or at worst, didn’t know what was going on.  Management’s message was no message, which only reinforced the suspicions me and others held.  An early example of how this created the impression of an orchestras adrift on a rocky PR sea, occurred  when a board member spoke with a member of the press and was quoted as saying the SSO has a small endowment ($24 million) because the orchestra isn’t as established as east coast orchestras.  The SSO is going to be 107 years old.  It might be younger than orchestras like the Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic, it is exact same age as the Minnesota Orchestra, which has been a cornerstone of the Midwest’s cultural life, was also founded in 1903.

The new transparency from management is no doubt the result of Dan McConnell.  McConnell is a PR professional with crisis management expertise.  For the record, Dan is also a follower of TGN and even won the Leon Fleisher give away last spring.

I submitted questions to Dan and SSO staff last week, and I hope to get answers soon.  I am doing my best to follow the orchestra as this particularly rough period for the orchestra develops.  I am traveling this week, but I did ask for the opportunity to hear the media advisory by phone since I can’t be there in person.  Hopefully, this is a request they will be able to accommodate.

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