Musicians Vote No Confidence in Orchestra CEO

Musicians Say It’s Time for a Change

The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra today issued a unanimous, secret ballot, “No Confidence” vote in Minnesota Orchestral Association President and CEO, Michael Henson.

Citing numerous examples of Henson’s missteps since becoming CEO, the Musicians say that Henson’s removal is key to resolving the current lockout by Management of the “greatest orchestra in the world.” (Alex Ross, New Yorker, 2010).

Among the significant issues that Musicians cite for their lack of confidence in Henson for during his term as CEO:

·       Misleading the Minnesota Legislature about the orchestra’s finances during his testimony in favor of the orchestra’s bonding request.  LISTEN

·       The revelations in the Star Tribune story of Monday, November 26th that Henson’s strategy to show large deficits at the time of labor negotiations, but illustrating how he led the organization in showing “balanced” budgets when requesting state bonding funds. STORY      MINUTES

·       Changing the Minnesota Orchestra’s Mission Statement without including Musicians in the process and removing the word “orchestra” from the new mission statement.

·       The lack of growth of the endowment fund since Henson’s tenure began.

·       Failing to act in the transparent manner that is expected of Minnesota cultural and civic institutions. For example, the Minnesota Orchestra does not receive a top score at because management does not make audited financials or Form 990 available on the orchestra’s website.

·       Henson’s inability to take advantage of the artistic recognition of Music Director Osmo Vanska and the musicians of the Orchestra to grow the local audience.

·       Jeopardizing future recording and international tours by locking out the Musicians when the artistic reputation of the Orchestra is at its highest point.

“The community leaders who have built and supported the Minnesota Orchestra deserve better to ensure the long-term vitality of this world-class artistic institution,” said Tim Zavadil, chair of the Musicians Negotiating Committee. “The lack of partnership between Henson and the Musicians since his arrival has been dysfunctional and adversarial due to his management style and lack of leadership ability.”

“Henson is the major obstacle between the Musicians and the Board of Directors working out a new contract.”

5 thoughts on “Musicians Vote No Confidence in Orchestra CEO

  1. It has become shockingly apparent that Orchestra management views classical music as a product line among others that can accrue to the bottom line of the organization; this as opposed to a fundamental commitment to the art form. They have lost their way.

    What is needed, instead of a $50 million renovation of a building, is a $50 million investment in audience development, starting with the young people of Minnesota. Imagine the return on that level of investment in people instead of concrete!

  2. Anyone who donated under the “old” mission statement – i.e. the one that actually included an “orchestra” – should demand their money back. All of it. The Board and management have violated their fiduciary trust.

    The Bain/Walmart school of management doesn’t work in arts organizations, but evidently some people didn’t get that memo.

  3. Pingback: Mr. Henson Goes to St. Paul, Part I | Song of the Lark

  4. Pingback: No Confidence Vs. Full Confidence | Adaptistration

  5. I recently received a splendid letter from Michael Henson. I’m taking a red marker to it and I won’t be holding back. Plan to return it to him and send copies to the board members, and the Star and Tribune with corrections.

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