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February 13, 2007

Percussionist banging out new direction in Lansing

Joe Nickell

It's usually the artistic directors, conductors, and other artistic staff that get the limelight in any performing arts organization. The administrative staff is respected and appreciated internally, but are rarely seen as anything but paper-pushing employees outside the organization.

Yet, an organization can live and die by its administrative staff. It's something that the Lansing Symphony Orchestra appears to have in mind when they selected their new executive director this month. David Gross, a percussionist for the Grand Rapids Symphony has been selected to be the next executive director.

He's a man who has learned from the administrative tragedies of others. As a professional musician he witnessed the labor disputes that caused the downfall of the Kansas City Philharmonic. Still a staunch union man, he's built a career by learning how to successfully negotiate contracts in ways that keep both musicians and the organization healthy and functioning.

In this story, Lawrence Cosentino of the Lansing City Pulse captures the importance of such skills to an organization in his profile of the incoming executive director.

At a time when arts organizations are spending more of their salary budget on administrative positions than on artists, it's always refreshing to see an organization that hires an artist who is also a capable administrator.

(Thanks to Bridgette Redman for pointing us to this story)

Posted by Joe Nickell at February 13, 2007 12:25 PM

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