Philadelphia Orchestra hires consultant Michael Kaiser

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Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra play during the Festival of Families. ( Yong Kim / Staff Photographer )

As talks continue between the Philadelphia Orchestra Association and musicians over a new labor pact, management has agreed to hire consultant Michael M. Kaiser to assist in addressing chronic big-picture challenges like fund-raising and strategic direction.

Musicians have been frustrated in contract talks - not only with the financial details of the deals management has been floating, but also with the financial realities that appear to be underpinning those offers.

The association has been engaged in an endowment drive whose goals are not ambitious enough to support an orchestra of the level of Philadelphia's, musicians say.

Kaiser will be retained for a six-month contract, according to an association spokeswoman. "He will be advising the association on the next phase of strategic planning, specifically resulting in proposed directives for increasing earned and contributed revenue and for creating a larger endowment fund," said Katherine Blodgett.

Kaiser, chairman of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, expects to start within two weeks, and will be working with staff, board, and musicians. His plan will be subject to board approval.

His work will be funded by "special support outside normal operating funds," Blodgett said.

He will recommend ways to increase revenue, and examine larger organizations issues. "I think I have to look at how all the pieces fit together," Kaiser said.

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