So, ICSOM, what have you done for me lately?
As painful as it is for me to say, I began to despair about the relevancy of ICSOM these past few years based on the actions of some of our own orchestras. I have despaired about the changing attitudes of our society, when the question “What can I do for you to make your life better?” is rarely asked anymore. Instead, it’s always about “ME” and the question has changed to “What do I need to do to make things better for me?” Of course this question totally disregards any impact individual or collective actions might have upon others.
I’m happy to report that I have been re-energized following the recent ICSOM Conference. We have new Governing Board members, and new leadership that cares deeply about countering the negative message that is being touted in newspapers around the globe. The Governing Board is an extremely diverse group of individuals, and the orchestras they represent are also diverse. We have it all—top ten orchestras, top twenty orchestras, and mid-level orchestras—North Carolina, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, San Diego, Dallas, and Minnesota. We are all concerned about serving the needs of all our member orchestras.
ICSOM was formed because orchestras knew that they would be stronger if they stood together. Look at what we accomplished!
We became acknowledged leaders in the orchestral industry thanks to the information we collected and disseminated over more than 40 years. At the ICSOM Conference recently convened in Nashville, in response to a question by Houston delegate Eric Arbiter, Brad Buckley listed many accomplishments that are directly due to ICSOM. Some of these accomplishments were made on our own, others through petitions to the AFM. Eric has listed them in his article elsewhere in this issue, so I won’t repeat them here. [The list starts on page 11. —Ed.] I would, however, add to that list:
- Additional information exchange that has been established thanks to Orchestra-L and Delegate-L
- Access to legal advice—Distinguished ICSOM Legal Counsel, Len Leibowitz, need I say more?
- Opportunities for negotiating orchestras to conference with each other and share ideas, strategies, and information during the critical period during negotiations And lest I forget the most important ICSOM event for your orchestra, there is the annual ICSOM Conference, when industry leaders instruct and advise delegates on the current issues our field faces, including negotiations, contract administration, labor history, public relations, and legislation, just a few of the topics covered each year. The Conference is probably the single most important chance orchestras have to get together and share ideas and information to allow us to move forward together.
Your delegates have indicated that ICSOM needs to combat the negative rhetoric about our industry. We plan to work hard to use positive messages about our industry to counter the false images being painted in the media by our institutional spokespersons with the hope that the public will realize that, more than 100 years later, we’re still thriving and the audiences are still coming.
But we can’t do this without you. We must all stop allowing managers to undercut our national agreements. We must be more proactive in assuring that the actions of our orchestras do not have a negative impact on our colleagues. You’d think it was a “no brainer” but it appears we must educate our constituents on the ideals and merits of solidarity. We must learn from our mistakes and move forward, stronger in the knowledge of what we must not do in the future.
It’s not all bad news. Positive things are happening all across this country and there is no good reason for orchestras to “cave” under pressure from management when their arguments cannot be justified.