Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Case Study

Actually Jim, this should be a "case law" study on very specific issues which
all not for profit organizations should be acutely aware.  When you get down
to it, it is the Board of the performing arts organizations that make, or break
the company with their decisions.

1. The performing arts are a business and as such need to be run like a
business from behind the scenes.

2. Performing arts board should not be a group of yes people to the chair
person and should know enough to shoot down far fetched ideas. (Mortier is a
fine example here.)

3. Performing arts boards should never give the GM title and Artistic Director
title to one person.  There are far too many things to be accomplished in both
jobs.  We have seen with the NYCO how this does not work well.  We have
also seen examples of problems with this double title within the MET.

4. Performing arts boards should not hire an individual who has 2 companies to
run.  They will steal donors from one to give to the other, or split donations.
Note Glimmerglass is quite healthy and still loaded with current and former
NYCO donors.

5. Performing arts board should hire management who has experience in the
specific area they are presenting.  The hiring of a presenter of canned talent
in a small academic theatre, is not the experienced impresario of an opera
company.  If the manager is not working out, they should  not be afraid to fire
the person and find a new talent.

6. Performing arts boards need to understand that it is their job to bail out
their organization if the donations are not there.  If they cannot do it
themselves, or with in-kind donations of their friends and colleagues, they
should not be on the board. (Case and point, a few years ago when ABT had
problems, Lew Ranieri put his money where his mouth was and bailed them
out.)  By the way, for those who poo-poo Mayor Bloomberg, he gave over
$500,000 to the company in the past year and paid a professional fund raiser
to assist them, he did his part as a patron of the arts here.

The NYCO was in trouble after Beverly Sills left.  Christopher Keene was a
musician and not a fund raiser and his unfortunte illness and death hampered
the company.  Paul Kellogg put on a good show up front while pilfering donors
from behind.  The Mortier idea which began with a dinner Susan Baker
attended and ended with a financial disaster for the company; was passed
through by a bunch of yes people on the Board and she should have had her
horse shot out from under her.  The final insult putting an individual in the GM
and Artistic Director job who was not ready for prime time sunk the operation
for good.  While it had something to do with what was performed on the
stage; it was bad business blunder, after bad business blunder by an inept
board. Business is key to performing arts organizations' future and their boards
have to remember that.

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