Eight Minnesota board members resign over Henson sacking

Eight Minnesota board members resign over Henson sacking


norman lebrecht

March 30, 2014

The Minnesota Orchestral Association Board has lost eight of its 77 members since it was announced that the president, Michael Henson, would be leaving in August. ‘I may never know the real story of how the Board got from a strong vote of confidence for Henson on February 28th to showing him the door on March 20th,’ wrote John P. Whaley to board chairman Gordon Sprenger.

Very true. But a board of 77? No wonder the MO is dysfunctional.

michael henson goes


  • CA says:

    Exactly! Among other reasons likely to emerge down the line…..

    • sdReader says:

      But you know the Rule of the 3 G’s …


      Get, or

      Get Off!

      That is the reason American orchestra and opera boards are so large.

      The more members, the more giving (donating). If a member is poor but has connections to “get” donations, fine. Otherwise, there is pressure to resign from (get off) the board.

      77 members would indicate a high level of giving and a broad connection between the association and the local business community.

      The loss of nine would tend to reduce donations.

  • David Boxwell says:

    To compare: the National Symphony Orchestra here in Washington DC has 53 people on its Board of Directors.

  • Wally Swanson says:

    So, eight board members resign while around 7,000 patrons pay to attend three performances, wearing blue and white and waving Finnish flags, calling for Osmo. More like attending a sporting event for all of the applause, cheers and whistling going on after the close of the Sibelius First Symphony. Which group sent the clearest message?

  • NYMike says:

    Good riddance!

  • nyer says:

    How large are other US orchestra boards? I am ignorant, but I would have thought not greater than 20…

  • The number of board members is large, but, if they are doing what a board member friend from art museum days said they should be doing, then, that might not necessarily be bad. He said that no one should be on a board unless he.she is willing to contribute large amounts of money, or, get others to contribute, or do work-in-kind. If they are “serving” there, only for some kind of “window dressing,” or social reason, then, that is dead wood, and can clog up the works. Too many non profit boards have the latter problem.

  • MacroV says:

    Boards of American arts institutions tend to be fairly large, I assume because most of them serve little purpose other than to raise money; it’s the executive committee that really does things, then usually rubber-stamped by the overall board. Sadly, probably the case in this situation.

  • robcat2075 says:

    So the board had 77 members and recently voted 40-8 to keep him. That’s just one more than a bare majority of the whole board.

    The untold story there is what those abstaining board members would have done if they dared vote.

    Are these things secret ballots or is someone risking their place on the social register by taking the wrong side on this?

  • Brian says:

    Eight? Sounds like a good start.

  • Stephen says:

    I’m on a Board and our rule is that we are a working board. that’s Time, Talent, Tithe. We’re there not only because we care about what we are doing but we wish to contribute.

    no matter how tithe-rich one is- that’s 1/3 of he equation. Where’s our volunteer time? What are our skill sets? No amount of money thrown at an organization makes up for those other two- why? Simple- if money is all you contribute then you sit on the throne and watch the rest of the work being done. That gets tired very fast.

    So I’m thinking that the best thing now is to offer a new beginning with the expectation up front that anyone wanting to be “on the board” will bring 3 T’s with them. And if there’s more than 30 willing to do this, then there might need to be a retreat with the sole purpose of building a cohesive, functioning action community. (money well-spent on long days and intense interaction with few cocktails, but working lunches and suppers). See who’s left.

    And why does Mr. Henson need to stay until August? You’ve got productive work to do that does not include carrying around a millstone.

  • Mark Carter says:

    I just can’t believe what Osmo accomplished in 1 week of rehearsal. The concert was superb. Massive dynamics and everything taught. I took in the chamber concert at Ted Mann Sunday. Osmo is a clarinet virtuoso and then some. We desperately need Osmo Vanska back in town.