I worked at New Jersey Symphony Orchestra full-time (More than a year)
Decent time-off with half-day summer Fridays. The work is fairly seasonal, so things tend to be a bit slower during the summers.
Terrible compensation. Low morale. Limited vision. I've heard things have changed slightly since new management, but overall still the same culture. The organization, unfortunately, is reactionary. Because it's seasonal work, and not much deviates from season to season, the work is fairly rinse and repeat each year.
No room to grow in the organization, because the work isn't focused on doing better but maintaining the failing status quo.
No official HR department, either. Any concerns/complaints goes to an individual who isn't unbiased.
Advice to Management
No point in giving advice. This place won't change.
Access to World Class concerts
Very antiquated office practices and staff-- underfunded, constant budget cuts, low pay for high expectations, no raises- ever!
Advice to Management
Value your employees with compensation appropriate to their level of education and expertise- explains the high turnover!
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is wanting to do more and grow -- I can feel this from the CEO. This can be an opportunity for anyone wanting to make change happen in the orchestra industry to try and push for that change and make a difference.
Every organization has its flaws, but the infrastructure of the organization is horrendous. There is very little communication and the senior staff who have been working there for decades are boxed-in in their ways. There is very little innovation as senior staff basically stick to what they know, and, as a result, every season is "plug-n-chug". There is very little in the way of guidance from senior staff.
Also, the issues facing the orchestra industry is much larger than just a handful of senior staff and board members that don't involve anyone else. There are lots of very motivated and driven young workers that are willing to share ideas and innovate in this incredibly fast pace changing world. We consume media differently than we did even just 10 years ago, and we make our entertainment decisions very differently than 10 years ago. The young people working are very upset that they don't have a voice and that there isn't an incentive to do things that push the boundaries of this organization. It's too bad that senior management doesn't recognize the incredible asset they have within their own organization. Same goes with the musicians that the administration never sees or interacts with.
The marketing department specifically is terribly misinformed as a whole, especially when it comes to measuring campaigns and new media. If there aren't any new initiatives that involves others (internally & externally) then I don't have high hopes for this organization. I've been through concert seasons without ever knowing what the budget is, nor have I ever been given reasons why certain decisions were made. There is very little incentive to do anything beyond the job description, partly because there is no involvement and partly because there is little to no information. The marketing department only meets about once a year (!) over the summer to "plan" when no marketing strategy or plan is ever written down to be set in motion.
It is terribly frustrating.
Advice to Management
A weekly "senior staff meeting" email sent to junior staff is insulting when we have brought to your attention that we don't feel involved and we don't feel ownership of the outstanding issues that face us as an organization. It doesn't put us on the same page -- in fact it angers many of us even more to be left out of major decisions only to be talked at later from a director/manager that is generally misinformed in the first place.
The time, passion and energy the musicians put into their music to present to concertgoers is amazing. The music that is being performed on stage breathes and is alive. Administration needs to strive for that kind of passion and teamwork.
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