I’ve always held the view that the best thing an
Not every line manager I’ve had in my near
Andrew Mellor’s blog post on the Classical Music echoes the feelings I had when I left arts administration in 1997.
I regretted leaving arts administration
The picture at the top of this post is of me and my then newly recruited colleague Helen posing for the fundraising
I loved my job as an orchestra manager. I loved the location too. It could have been ideal had the money been better (I ended up taking multiple bank loans in order to live), the conditions been a little less demanding, and the support been there to reassure me that yes I was doing a good job.
I’ve written before about the more humorous recollections of being an orchestral manager, but the reality was that I felt hugely inexperienced, crippled by imposter syndrome, having to sell concert-playing opportunities to graduate musicians with a rehearsal schedule that didn’t have enough budget.
I don’t think that now. The passing of the years has provided me with a far gentler, more forgiving stance. I think I gained far more experience doing the job than I
Is this all my music degree is good for?
The trigger to leave arts administration was down to one crucial event. The
I handed in my notice the following day. I left to start working as an IT support engineer in a margarine factory in East London four weeks later.
Me and arts administration now
It’s only been since I have started writing more and more about classical music on this blog that I notice the odd tang of regret about leaving arts administration back in ’97. Reconnecting with the performing arts because of the blog, but never really feeling as though I’m fully employed by the arts is a bittersweet thing.
A bit of me perhaps still hankers after a job in arts administration. And when I think of that, I start to wonder (and have said in a podcast with one chief exec) whether I was too quick to jack it all in and pursue the money.
There is an argument for saying that arts administration staff do need to accept that their roles will encompass all manner of ad-hoc tasks. Arts
How I would have liked it to be
When I reflect on how I would like my time in arts administration to have been different, I end up thinking that I would have liked to have felt as though I was being invested in. I would have wanted to feel as though my contribution was, above the paltry salary, valued. I would have liked to know that there was a career path. I would have liked to have been able to say to somebody at the time, “I don’t think this is working,” or, “I need some help with this.”
Don’t get me wrong. I offloaded to colleagues a lot. Bored them to tears. But there wasn’t anything practical, useful or empowering to help me see my place in it all, and to halt my incessant ruminations that the difficulties of the job were all down to me. There could have been so much more which could have helped me and in turn helped the organisation.
Developing your staff isn’t as costly as you think
As part of my coaching business, I’m trying to offer the kind of skills I didn’t get when worked in the arts, back to the kinds of
But, when it comes to tentatively discussing solutions, the message I get back is stark (and here I paraphrase, by the way): why would we invest in developing people when we accept that there will always be a high turnover of staff given the poor salaries there are? It seems as though retaining staff isn’t a priority, because its just not possible, so developing them isn’t either. But wouldn’t challenging that assumption,
The training and development that could have helped the
Jon Jacob is an ICF accredited leadership coach, mentor
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 07768 864655.