Friday, June 19, 2009

no such thing as bad press...? (updated 6/20)

the latest round of national press for eric dillner and the executive committee of the skylight opera isn't exactly full of rave reviews. in fact, most of it is pretty scathing –

arts journal:
On its face, it's a troubling assumption that business leadership should trump artistic leadership in organizations committed to aesthetic mission. But clear already is how badly and opaquely the board of the Skylight managed the decision and its public conversation surrounding it.
Skylight's "artistic coordination and administration will now be part of the responsibilities of managing director, Eric Dillner, who assumed the managing director position at the Skylight in 2008. An opera singer, he was previously the general and artistic director at the Shreveport Opera. Milwaukee native Theisen reportedly began his association with Skylight as a teen actor.
The appearance of a power grab [by current Managing Director Eric Dillner, who was hired just over a year ago] is not helped by his previous work as an AD, director, and singer. It can certainly seem to those outside the company that the MD was feeling artistically stifled in his job, and felt that he could serve the company best by controlling not only the purse strings, but the shows themselves. The hiring of his wife to direct a show that she wrote, “Herman the Horse,” which the company will produce and tour, does not do much to dissuade from that idea. A board rarely knows of the day to day workings of a theatre. Someone had to suggest these specific changes to them.
clyde fitch reports:
Is it not the case that a managing director and an artistic director are meant to work as a team? In some companies, sure, it’s the artistic director who stands out more — he or she, after all, is responsible for final programming decisions, and receives the blame or claims the credit when productions are poor or great. But I’m hard pressed to think of many not-for-profit theaters where the business person, whether called the executive director, producing director or managing director, is the dominant face of the organization, where the artistic director is subservient, for all intents and purposes, to the business person’s will.


  1. unfortunately, it is very, very hard for someone (the board?) to admit when they are wrong. i continue to hold out hope that they will realize the error of their ways. sending skylight-positive thoughts from nc to mke...katie

  2. tony: more hational coverage here, this time from a respected arts management institute:


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