Performing Arts: The Ultimate Team Sport?

One of the topics I’ve been wanting to write about for a while, but didn’t quite have an angle on is just how important it is for our schools to support performing arts programs (Band, Orchestra, Choir, Theater).  There have been plenty of academic studies showing a high correlation between participation in the performing arts and academic excellence, but I was looking for another angle.  As I was trying to go to sleep tonight, the topic of this post floated across my mind with such an impact that I had to get the idea down before I lost it.

So, why is it that the performing arts are the untilate team sport?  In a nutshell, you get all of the positive benefits of sports without the inherent aggression found to one degree or another in virtually every conventional team sport.  Taking a string orchestra class as an example,

  • Teamwork:  performers have to work together to meet a common goal, beautiful music.
  • Leadership:  each section has a “first chair” that leads the section.  There may also be student conductors who assist the teacher.
  • Coordination:  each performer needs to learn to coordinate their efforts with their section and the conductor.
  • Taking direction: each performer needs to follow the director’s instructions.
  • Observation:  each performer needs to pay attention to the director as well as their own performance.
  • Multi-tasking:  the performer needs to pay attention to at least three different things at once: the music, the director, and their instrument.
  • Dedication:  it takes a lot of practice and persistence to perform well.
  • Competition:  although not the focus of an orchestra, there are often opportunities to participate in local, regional, and even national  competitions.

Things you don’t typically get from the performing arts that are all too often found in sports include,

  • debilitating physical injury
  • fights
  • taunting/hostility

Under Construction

This is blog is still under construction and I’m still figuring out what I want to do with it. Please be patient and let me know if you like (or hate) any changes I make…

How to Profit in the Coming Recovery…

It seems that in this economy, many companies are still trying to show a profit, whatever the cost.  They are reducing staff to the point that critical projects are put in jeopardy, making it difficult or impossible to meet the commitments they still have.  Other companies are avoiding layoffs by cutting pay by reducing salaries, unpaid days off, etc.   These strategies are reasonable survival measures for companies that are facing bankruptcy, but I’m seeing it being used by companies that are healthy to continue making a profit.

I may be naive, but I would not be so focused on profit at a time like this.  I would be looking at two economic projections as applied to my industry.  The first is at my best guess at how long and deep this recession will be.  The second would be a more pessimistic view, much like the Obama administration is applying to the banks in theis “stress test”.   With those projections in hand, I would come up with two budgets.  The first would be targeted to break-even in the best guess economy.  The second would rely on drawing down my cash reserves to a bare minimum, or even zero, in the worst case economy.  Based on those two budgets, I would maintain staffing and spending as high as possible.

This approach would have several benefits.  First, my company would be positioned well, with my teams intact, when the economy recovers.  I won’t have to scramble to re-staff, sacrificing productivity in the recovery.  Second, if this were to become the norm, the recovery will be much faster than if everyone keeps focusing on profits.

So why do so many companies take short sighted approaches?