The Art of the Turnaround
Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Brandeis University Press
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My father wanted me to be a dentist because he said I would always be in demand. I have a different suggestion for those seeking a secure profession: make a career of turning around troubled performing arts organizations. In my twenty-plus-year career, I have found no shortage of job opportunities....
The Art of the Turnaround: Ten Rules
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All turnarounds are different and yet all turnarounds are the same. While the size of the problem, the organization’s visibility, the involvement of government agencies, and the personalities of the key players may vary, in almost every case, one enters an organization that is suffering from poor cash flow, negative press, and angry artists, staff, donors, and board...
Case One: Kansas City Ballet
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In the summer of 1985 I sold Michael M. Kaiser Associates, a management consulting firm I opened in 1981. The firm offered strategic planning support to numerous Fortune 500 corporations. We specialized in studying the way industries were evolving and the strategies competitors were embracing to respond....
Case Two: Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation
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In September of 1990, after a stint at the Pierpont Morgan Library, I was approached about the possibility of running the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I had collaborated with Alvin in Kansas City and was a huge fan of his work. Alvin had died nine months earlier at a tragically young age. The company, under the new artistic director, Judith...
Case Three: American Ballet Theatre
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After the rigors of running Ailey, I decided to renew myself by spending some time consulting to other arts organizations. I received a call shortly after I started my consulting business from Gary Dunning, the very talented executive director of American Ballet Theatre (ABT). He had recently been asked to take the helm of this troubled dance company...
Case Four: Royal Opera House
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Simply told, the story of my becoming executive director of the Royal Opera House goes like this: I heard the job was open through an article in the New York Times, I sent a letter to the chairman asking to be considered, and I was asked to a series of interviews after which I was offered the job....
Case Five: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
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Shortly after my resignation from the Royal Opera House was announced, I was phoned by Jim Wolfensohn, then chairman of the World Bank, asking whether I would be interested in running the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. I had known Jim casually for some years and had spent a little time with him during my tenure in...
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When I started working in the arts, I did not know how to do a turnaround. The experiences at the Kansas City Ballet were clearly hit-or-miss. But I did know how to observe and analyze and I have always been painfully honest, especially about my own failures. The “most important 52 feet campaign” at the Kansas City Ballet was a mistake. But it taught me a...
Index of Names
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Page Count: 204
Publication Year: 2008