The Hall Formerly Known As Avery Fisher Has A New Name

Adaptistration People 041Barely four months after announcing The Hall Formerly Known As Avery Fisher (THFAAF) was up for naming rights dibs, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts found a taker. According to an article by Robin Pogrebin in the 3/4/2015 edition of New York Times, the naming rights are going to cover approximately 1/5 of the half a billion dollar renovation.

The individual picking up the tab is David Geffen, #195 in Forbes‘ big list of billionaires and the 68th wealthiest man in the US, and he doesn’t want his gift to go the way of the Fisher family. According to Pogrebin’s report, the 72 year old entertainment industry magnate insisted that the Lincoln Center keep his name on the hall in perpetuity.

Adjusted for inflation, Geffen’s gift is nearly double what the Fisher family donated in 1973 and per our speculation back in November, it looks like we won’t be treated to anything outside of the ubiquitous donor name for a very (very) long time.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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6 thoughts on “The Hall Formerly Known As Avery Fisher Has A New Name

  1. I think the lesson they will learn is that renovation will only make so much improvement to the acoustic. It seems in other cities, buildings didn’t survive (at least as a hall for symphony concerts) unless they had good enough acoustics to surpass any newcomer. And until that happens, I don’t know why the bricks are worshipped. As long as you are aiming for a Musikverein, Concertgebouw, or Boston – consider what led to the building of those buildings. Paris may have just built their “Musikverein” – perhaps LA has too. It is a subjective and individual thing too – what highlights qualities in the NYPO that are distinctly theirs (which can be determined by hearing them in other good places). It comes down to renovation every 15-20 years, or building new and getting it “right.” It’s just as dangerous to assume that any new hall must be better. But until you get it right, the issue won’t go away.

  2. If gutting the building to the outside walls and completely reconfiguring the actual hall cocooned inside and reducing seating by 400+ is the plan, then it just may succeed.

  3. Well, for NYC, and I’m not saying I agree with this argument – but a comparison will be made with Carnegie Hall. And if enough people think Carnegie Hall is still better, the issue of renovation will not rest.
    If this kind of money is floating around, it is possible for them to build the best hall in the world. If any city could do it, it’s NYC. We don’t know what the orchestral scene will be like in 20-30 years – maybe things won’t be as bad as some forecasts – but these opportunities shouldn’t be overlooked.

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