Questionable Management Spurs Police Investigation In Glenwood Springs, CO

Fictional devo staffers, imaginary grant writing software, and a lack of annual audits are only part of the concerns that ultimately led the Glenwood Springs police to investigate the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts (GSCA) finances.

Adaptistration People 175The 5/22/2017 edition of the published an article by Ryan Summerlin that reports on the latest in suspected governance fail and possible criminal behavior. The investigation centers on management practices of former executive director Christina Brusig and the organization’s slide from financial stability to near collapse during her tenure, which began in 2014.

The inquiry into GSCA finances is ongoing but Brusig recently plead guilty to felony check fraud. The Denver Post published details of that case, which appears to be mutually exclusive of the Glenwood Springs police investigation, in an article from 4/25/2017.

Summerlin’s article is a fascinating read and demonstrates the sort of trouble arts organizations can get into when crafting unusual arrangements with city governments. In the GSCA’s case, the city contributed regular funding and the executive director, including Brusig, was a city employee. At the same time, executive oversight was the domain of the center’s board.

According to report, this separation of otherwise integrated responsibilities made both parties sluggish when considering action once problems became known. Moreover, a lack of clearly defined oversight responsibilities may have contributed to an environment that encouraged poor executive decision making.

If nothing else, the ordeal serves as a useful warning to organizations with similar funding and governance arrangements. Good and capable executive leaders rarely generate cause for alarm but that shouldn’t invite extended governance leaders to be lax in their oversight duties.

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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