Although the crisis in Louisville earlier this season took its toll on everyone involved in the organization, there’s always the upside that everyone can learn from the mistakes surrounding the situation. To that end, Louisville is still teaching the business some lessons…
Toward the end of June, The Louisville Courier-Journal published a brief article by Andrew Adler which reports that Ari Solotoff, Louisville orchestra chief operating officer, is leaving that position in august to run the Portland (Maine) Symphony. As such, this essentially leaves the organization without a permanent executive administrator, a development director, a marketing director, and a general manager (after the departure of Robert McGrath to the SLSO in March, 2006).
During the early part of 2005, Scott Provancher, the LO executive director at that time, decided to combine the executive positions of marketing and development into a single billet entitled “senior director of marketing and development”. Although I’m all for finding creative ways to manage mid size ensembles, this seemed like a bad idea at the time and one of those negative consequences is coming to fruition with Solotoff’s departure.
It’s not unusual to witness a number of senior staffers jump ship following a nasty labor negotiation or during financial trials, but given the fact that most organizations the size of Louisville have no less than four full-time executive administrators (executive director, general manager, development director, and marketing director) there are usually enough managers to absorb the vacuum during vacancies.
Regrettably, Louisville’s GM left during the heat of the labor dispute, their ED announced his resignation a few weeks after that and by June, Solotoff was left as the only senior administrator capable of managing the origination on an executive level. Skip ahead from there a month and Solotoff announces he’s out in August.
In a traditional organization, there would still be at least one individual left to fill the role as executive manager but that’s not the case in Louisville.
Perhaps someone among the rapidly growing cadre of elder retired and semi-retired orchestra executives will step in and volunteer their time (less expenses, of course) to run the outfit while they look for a new executive director. There are plenty of these folks out there capable of lending their time to the organization without the need to charge the typical five-figure fee that usually accompanies their services.
If the fee is a deal breaker, then perhaps the League could pick up the tab; after all, Provancher (the manager that implemented the idea of combining the marketing and development positions) and Solotoff (the manager now leaving that post) are both recent graduates of the ASOL Management Fellowship program.
Seems fair to me.