Monthly Archives: January 2013

Woods Bowman’s Amazing Article on Non-Profit Ethics

Here’s an article called “Nonprofit Accountability and Ethics: Rotting From the Head Down,” by Woods Bowman. I’ve heard snippets here and there since it was posted in October but didn’t actually sit down to read the whole thing until yesterday. This was a mistake on my part. Go read it now – go, go, go.

Here are selected passages and my reactions.

The article starts off:

Arguably, the public holds nonprofits to higher ethical standards than government or businesses. Over 25 percent of Americans report having “a lot” of confidence in charitable organizations compared to 9 percent for government and 7 percent for major corporations,1 but do nonprofits deserve that confidence?

Interest: piqued.

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Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra, The Orchestra Business

One Night for Art: An Open Letter To Mr Henson

Dear Mr. Henson,

So. About this Grammy concert.

I was going to be good and accept the spirit of a one-night truce. I really was. I was going to say, “Yes, my personal rhetoric has been heated (and to be perfectly honest, I don’t regret that); HOWEVER, I’m going to follow the example of our political and philanthropic leaders and, at least when it comes to discussing this particular show, tone the rhetoric down. I am going to view this concert the way its hosts have said they want me to: as a celebration of the Orchestra’s excellence, not as an opportunity to advance my own deeply felt agenda.”


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Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra

Tickets to the Sibelius Concert…and a SOTL Reception

Do you want to go to the Minnesota Orchestra Sibelius show? Tickets are going on sale at Monday January 14 at noon Central Standard Time in the Year of Our Lord 2013. Details here. Even if you’re not sure if you’ll be able to go, buy them and turn them back in. Because this thing is going to sell out fast. I’ll go out on a limb and say this will be the single most historic concert the Minnesota Orchestra has ever put on. I honestly don’t think that’s hyperbole. So be there.


I’m attempting to throw together some kind of informal reception for my darling readers in downtown Minneapolis before the concert.

If you think you would come, either

  1. comment on this blog entry
  2. email me at songofthelarkblog [at] gmail [dot] com, or
  3. like the SOTL Facebook page and then like this status update about a reception.

I need to know approximately how many I might be planning for. Details TBA. Nothing formal – just a drop in, drop out kind of thing. Maybe with drinks or dessert.

I’m also trying to cook up some kind of popcorn-based fundraising event. So there’s that.


Mr. Michael Henson is, of course, warmly invited to our fabulous Song of the Lark soiree! Even if he does not come, I am planning to print out a picture of him and tape it on a conspicuously empty chair, so that all of us can remember the reason we’ve been brought together.

Thanks, Mr. Henson!


Filed under Blog Stuff, Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra

Popcorn’s Surprising Health Benefits

A reader has passed some important health news along:

Popcorn is good for us.

Here’s an article entitled “Popcorn’s Surprising Health Benefits” from –

Popcorn has received a bucketful of bad press in recent years—movie popcorn in particular—but a new study confirms that popcorn has some surprisingly good nutritional qualities…

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Filed under Blog Stuff

Minnesota Orchestra Sibelius Grammy Concert

Was not expecting this…

From Mayor Rybak’s office:

Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minnesota Orchestra benefactor Judy Dayton today invited the public to a community celebration that they are hosting on Friday evening, February 1 to mark the Minnesota Orchestra’s nomination for a Grammy Award. The celebration will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The Minnesota Orchestra has been nominated for Best Orchestral Performance at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards for its recording of Jean Sibelius’ Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5, conducted by Osmo Vänskä and released by the Swedish label BIS Records. The winner in the category will be announced on February 10.

Mayor Rybak and Ms. Dayton invited Minnesota Orchestra musicians and Music Director Osmo Vänskä to perform these nominated works at the February 1 community celebration. If the musicians and Music Director Vänskä accept the invitation, ticketing information will be announced to the public soon thereafter.

“The difficult labor dispute has taken its toll, but for this one night, we ask everyone to set negotiations aside and come together as a community to celebrate the Orchestra’s extraordinary achievement and listen to their beautiful, Grammy-worthy performance,” Mayor Rybak said.

“The Minnesota Orchestra is one of our premier civic treasures,” said Ms. Dayton. “We must not miss the opportunity to honor their nomination for this prestigious award, regardless of the circumstances.”

From the Star Tribune:

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Judy Dayton, a longtime arts benefactor, are hoping that both sides in the Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute will set down their arms for one night and celebrate the ensemble’s Grammy nomination.

Rybak and Dayton have invited the players and music director Osmo Vanska to perform the Sibelius Symphonies No. 2 and 5 on Feb. 1 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The orchestra’s recording of those two pieces have been nominated for Best Orchestral Performance. The Grammy winner will be announced Feb. 10.

“We are obviously in a complicated labor issue right now,” Rybak said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “But it would be a tragedy in my mind if the dispute prevented this community from celebrating the fact that we have an institution that is up for a Grammy.” …

From the musicians:

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are honored to be invited by Mayor R.T. Rybak and Orchestra benefactor Judy Dayton to perform at a Grammy celebration concert on February 1st, 2013.

The Musicians recognize the significance this Grammy nomination holds for our community and the Orchestra’s reputation, as well as the importance of joining Osmo in performing these Sibelius works for our audience.

“This is a tremendous gesture by the Mayor and Ms. Dayton,” Principal Trombonist Doug Wright said. “It will be the Musicians’ distinct honor to accept their invitation and join our Music Director on stage for a performance of these Grammy-nominated works for our community. It should be a concert to remember.”


Will you be there?

You could go to this.


Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra

Some Economic Impacts

As we gear up for a hearing on January 23 that will focus on the economic impact of the NHL and orchestra lockouts, here is a post I wrote on my SOTL Facebook page (which, by the way, you should “like” if you haven’t already).

Orchestrate Excellence asks, “How has the Minnesota Orchestra lockout affected you personally or economically?”

Here are some facts about the economic impact of the Orchestra’s lockout…

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Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra

Analysis of the MOA’s 1/2 Press Release

Hey, kids! It’s time for another edition of Analyze This Press Release! As always, “Analyze This Press Release” is brought to you by Song of the Lark, the Minnesota Orchestral Association, and my obsessive nature.

The press release I’ll be analyzing today is the MOA’s most recent:

Minnesota Orchestra Board outlines four points to initiate progress in negotiations with Musicians’ Union

This headline makes it sounds like the musicians have been unwilling to talk, off on a tropical beach somewhere playing volleyball and sipping tequila, but…okay. If you need to save face by making the MOA look like the hero, be my guest.

 The Minnesota Orchestra Board Negotiating Committee and Musicians’ Union representatives met this afternoon in a productive three-hour session, the first held since contract talks broke off on September 30. On December 21, the Orchestra Board invited the musicians to a meeting in early January, with no preconditions, in order to restart negotiations.

How generous of the MOA!

Something else happened on December 21st, too…I’m trying to remember exactly what…oh, yes, that’s right, the MOA replied to fourteen angry state representatives who had contacted the MOA in early December wanting to know if the MOA had misused public money. But I am sure there is no connection whatsoever between these letters and the MOA’s new offer. Do carry on.

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Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra


More proof that the MOA knows who I am…

The MPR article – in which I and my blog got more space than Michael Henson – is now listed in Industry News.


Um. Why is management even obliquely promoting this blog? Is this a sign that the Industry News page is starting to post others’ viewpoints? What’s next? A link to SOTL? Is this a shift in strategy, or just a dumb mistake?

I don’t get this, at all, but I guess it wouldn’t be the first time I don’t get the logic behind the MOA’s PR tactics. So, um, thanks for the shout-out, MOA. If you want to…you know…actually contact me…………feel free. I’ve got a shiny Facebook page now through which you can do that.

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Filed under Blog Stuff, Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra

What does it all mean?

Graydon Royce’s latest:

Fresh talks signal thaw in Minnesota Orchestra dispute

The rhetoric softened noticeably on Wednesday. “I was encouraged by the meeting,” said board chairman Jon Campbell.

A spokesman for the musicians said only that the players “agreed to a fresh start.”

The board offered a four-point plan for musicians to consider:

• Return to the organization’s former mission statement, with two changes to emphasize community service and financial stability.

• Share more financial data with musicians, including forecasts through 2015.

• Invite musicians to submit a proposal for a “mutually agreeable independent financial review” to verify the orchestra’s financial condition.

• Offer a schedule of dates for more meetings.

“We had good dialogue around the four ideas that we had, and agreement on the concepts of financial sustainability and artistic quality and the fresh start,” said Campbell.

A fresh start

I need to sleep on the news and mull it all over. But obviously the first thought that struck me…

Five weeks ago, financial review = a frolic and detour

But now, apparently financial review =

A fresh start

So, hmm. What happened in the interim…. I wonder…

Anyway, I’m sensing a new SOTL catchphrase, folks! One that would be at home in an advertising campaign for deodorant or detergent.

What do you think? Are we being played? Is pressure being applied behind the scenes? Is the MOA scared of the state legislature? What do you think? Unfortunately right now my cynicism meter is on high. So I’m waiting for the trick and the catch.

More analysis to come, after I dream of “mutually agreeable independent financial reviews.” Whatever those are.


Filed under Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra