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Is your conductor a board member?

Just wondering - is your conductor a non-voting board member? Why or why not?
on September 21, 2013 5:23am
Our organization: 160 voice Chorale/Chamber Orchestra/Children's Chorus/Chamber Chorus/Women's ensemble. . I am the chorus manager and a board member
Board:  Outside community, chorus members. Our Conductor is at every board meeting and acts as the Artistic director of the organization. He has complete input and control over repertoire and has a voice in every meeting. Anything that effects the direction of the chorus benefits from his input. Board does not interfere with anything musical - he's the expert. We raise money. We make it rain. That is our function.
on September 21, 2013 7:14am
Our community chorus was set up 40 years ago with the conductor not a board member at all. I am in my 5th year as the music director with this chorus and it will be my last. I get invited to board meetings from time to time, but having seen how this group operates, I can think of no good reason why the music director should not be in attendance at every board meeting for the dissemination of information. The conductor is integral to the chorus. Only in matters of hiring, firing, salary and the like, should the conductor be excluded. What possible benefit is there for the board to selectively disseminate information to the music director? Our board maintains they can't charge annual dues from the members because we are non-profit! The members don't have to purchase their music so they have no expenses at all.
It is my opinion that a musical director is as integral to the group as the board members and should be a voting member. But to exclude the director from board meetings altogether is like running a little dictatorship. Issues such as picking section leaders, for ex., are issues that the director should able to weigh in on.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 22, 2013 9:21am
I am the current [and founding] director of Ensemble Companio and I have a voting seat on our board.  In collaboration with my officers, I craft the group's artistic vision.  I choose music and make artistic decisions by myself.  They handle logistics and finances.  But my input is integral to the running of the board.
It's hard for me to imagine a scenario in which the AD should *not* have a vote.  And Betty: we're a non-profit as well (still waiting on our 501(c)(3) status; we applied months ago) and we can and do charge our members dues.
Joseph Gregorio
on September 22, 2013 3:18pm
I am the artistic director of a community chorus which has been in existence for over 35 years.  The artistic director before me was the founding director, so the administration of the chorus was formed under her guidance.  I served on the board of directors for several years before I became Artistic Director two years ago, so I have served this organization in both capacities.  In our structure, the artistic director is an ex-officio member of the board.  That is, the AD attends and participates in all board meetings but does not vote.  I am very comfortable with this.  I supply my vision and goals for the organization and receive helpful feedback from the board members.  I would be very reluctant to try to perform my duties without regular contact with the board, but I trust them to follow my lead on artistic matters.  I also enjoy being involved with fund raising and community outreach discussions.  After all, one way or the other, this will impact me in my position as AD.  Therefore, I need to be involved with the discussion.  On the other hand, I do not mind not being a voting member.  To be able to pass off to the board many of the issues that arise is a blessing.  
Bruce Borton
on September 23, 2013 3:54am
I agree with Joseph; I cannot imagine a situation where the AD should nor have a vote. At my most recent civic chorus position with the Holland Chorale (MI), as the artistic director and conductor, I was an ex officio, voting board member. Like Joseph's scenario, I crafted the artistic vision for the organization and gave input to the board. There is a bit of confusion over whether ex officio board members receive voting rights. In some cases, there is just the assumption that ex officio members do not vote, when in reality voting ex officio members are quite common. "Ex officio" simply means that they are "automatic" board members because of their office, which presumes they are "normal" board members in every other way. Still, whether one votes as an EO member varies. Here's a good discussion of this topic (,DateCreated+DESC); there are other web sites that discuss a search for "ex officio voting" and there will be lots to read! When I was hired as artistic director by the organization, this was a topic that arose; we ultimately addressed it in a by-laws revision by simply removing the confusing-to-some ex officio term and just stated plainly:  "The Artistic Director a member of the Board of Directors." Elsewhere in the by-laws, it states that each board member receives one vote, and that ended the discussion.
Finally, to address the matter of hiring, the board hired all staff--with the exception of the accompanist. In the by-laws, it stated specifically that the enagement of the accompanist was the responsibility of the artistic director. They by-laws language was: "The accompanist(s) shall be appointed by the Artistic Director for such compensation as determined by the Board of Directors." I found this to be an excellent, and appropriate policy.
on September 23, 2013 5:40am
When the Nashville Singers, Inc. was founded in the fall of 2008, I wore many hats including musical director and marketing VP, a board position. Fast forward a few years and I found myself appointed to the position of Executive Director, the chief executive officer of the corporation. I'm still the musical director but have a fabulous associate director. Upon accepting that appointment, I forfeited my voting rights on the board.
In the nonprofit world, the board's primary responsibility is policy governance, mission and vision work, approving the budget, and monitoring the effectiveness of the CEO. If all I was responsible for was running the music program, because the music program impacts the budget, the board would still be responsible for managing my effectivesness. The board is the boss.
I do not see self-oversight as a good thing. Having a vote on the board as musical director would create a perception of a conflict of interest. Perception is reality. As long as I continue to lead, inspire, conduct a forward-thinking music program, and maintain the trust of the singers and the board, my job should be secure. If that ever changes then its time for new musical leadership.
My two cents...
Todd Wilson
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 23, 2013 6:23am
I am the Music Director for a 100-voice chorus and 25 member orchestra with an annual operating budget of about $60K.  We also have an Executive Director.  Both the ED and I attend all board meetings and offer input but neither postions are voting members.  In rare instances, the Offiers have met privatley, mostly to discuss salary issues, then present their recommendations to the full board (13 members).
Eric Brown
on September 23, 2013 7:13pm
I've been involved in three choirs where the MD was constitutionally a committee member (to use our parlance), with full voting rights. In all cases, the organisation was founded by the musical director and largely driven by that person. I have taken over as MD for one of those organisations, and the arrangement persists - obviously I stay away when anything relating to my employment is to be discussed.
In most other choirs I've been involved with, the MD has not been a voting member, but attends committee as an ex-officio member - unless (this has happened at one choir), the MD is elected to a position on the committee.
All of the choirs in question were incorporated associations (non-profit) under Victorian (Australia) legislation, with committees elected by the membership of the association. Usually this means the singers themselves.
on September 24, 2013 7:27am
Our Artistic Director is not a member of the board and has no voting rights.  We are currently under the direction of the fourth Artistic Director in our history.  The Artistic Director really has the voice of greatest influence in all artistic matters, and we haven't had a board of directors that didn't support our Artisitc Director quite thoroughy.  We did, however, have a rather dicey situation at one point in our history, and I am grateful that the Artistic Director was not a voting member at that time, because it would have made an already icky situaion much worse.  It makes the chain of command lines clearer in hard times, it makes it easier to conduct regular performance reviews of the Artistic Director, and it makes those "big money" conversations a bit easier when the Artistic Director doesn't have a vote.
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