Monday, June 22, 2009

strini calls for the final resignation

tom strini, milwaukee journal/sentinal music and dance critic, is joining former skylight opera theatre resident music director jamie johns in calling for skylight managing director eric dillner to either resign or be fired:
Does anyone think that Dillner will be able to raise a nickel in this town after this mess? Or retain a shred of credibility with the accomplished local performers who so enliven the Skylight stage? I regret the need to say this, but Dillner, whatever talent and skills he might possess, is damaged goods and has to go, and soon.

The board must swallow its pride, reinstate (Former Artistic Director) William Theisen, and take over business management itself for a year. It must cut costs as it can and raise money with emergency energy to get through the 50th season. Then it will be time to regroup and figure out the how to structure the Skylight Opera Theatre in year 51 and beyond.
strini carries huge weight in the milwaukee community, and has been a supporter of theisen throughout his tenure at the skylight. for someone of his stature to call for dillner to go should be a huge wake-up call to a board that, except for it's president and resigning members, has kept fairly silent on the subject.


  1. "a board that...has kept fairly silent."

    I'd say deadly silent, personally. Just putting in my two cents, which I also just sent you. Sent you cents, that is. Does that make sense?

  2. you better be cared johns. i may have to cents-or you.

  3. Time's up for you to comment, Skylight.

  4. There comes a time to say "NO. Enough is enough."

    Those who care about the Skylight have waited a week for a response from board and management regarding the firings of key staff and restructuring of the senior staff. To date there has been little to no substantial response to the chorus of criticism that has resulted.

    Skylight is not a building, nor one person, nor a particular show. It is an idea sprung from the minds of Clair Richardson and Sprague Vonier, who asked "Want to have some real fun?" and put together a scrappy little company that put on surprisingly good shows given limited resources.

    Skylight is the idea that you can take your work very seriously while not taking yourself very seriously. It is the idea that there are no "stars" except those who support the work, hence no star dressing rooms in the basement.

    Skylight is the idea that we're all in this together as a group...artists, technicians, musicians, and staff. Which is why their used to be very little difference in what people got paid.

    Skylight is the idea that opera and musicals, and operettas and cabaret all grow from a common seed, only blooming in different hues. That's why each piece was treated with equal mixtures of care and good humor by people like Bill, Richard and Jamie with deep, deep backgrounds in all these genres.

    Skylight is the idea that the people with the window offices are the junior staff, not the bosses, who sit in the back. That’s why the offices used to be right across the hall from the rehearsal hall…so any artist and any administrator could literally wander over and say hello. Which they did on a daily basis.

    Skylight is the idea that the work comes first, before considerations of finance, which is why you had Clair Richardson and Colin Cabot importing European operetta festivals, and Francesca Zambello and Stephen Wadsworth doing things like Monteverdi cycles, Joan Lounsbery and Chas Rader-Schieber doing Handel cycles, Christopher Libby and Richard Carsey doing the works of Richard Wargo, and Bill Theisen doing Spitfire Grill and Midnight Angel.

    Skylight is the idea that is not like all the rest. It is not a grand opera company (we already have a fine one), nor is it a music theatre hall (we’ve had those too). It was indefinable precisely because it rejected the norms of performance and management. The buried the founder in the basement for God sake.

    Skylight is also the idea that it will do well by making due. How many years were spent in that swamp of a dressing room on Jefferson? How many fingers had to be warmed to get through a rehearsal or performance there? How much spit and sweat and gum and chicken wire have gone into keeping the Broadway Theatre Center patched together these many years? How many times were the payables “aged” and dumpsters dived for props? How many rounds of drinks have sufficed for bonuses?

    If you read these words, know this. There is no corporate “we” at Skylight. There is only a small group of people responsible to keep this idea alive. They are your neighbors; your lawyer, your accountant, your banker, your friend. Reach out to them and tell them how you feel. Ask them how this is supposed to work out right. Those “major” donors? They aren’t so major they are unreachable. Ask them what they think of this. Now ask them to make a call.

    The Skylight is no longer the one you knew and loved. Want it back? Then make it clear right now that this new company… you want nothing to do with it. This new company, built on the backs of your friends, their talent and their dollars (and yours perhaps) will not profit from your continued support. You supported an idea. Not a man like Bill, not a building like the BTC, not even a favorite show. You supported the idea of the Skylight as maintained by 49 years of staff and artists in an unbroken string going back to Clair and Sprague and one inspired question, “Want to have some real fun?”

    Those of us who care about the Skylight have waited long enough for a response.

  5. Hire back the employees and start to look at new ways to save, across the board cuts, a massive fund raiser, etc... and than and only after all other outlets have been looked at begin to look at which departments may be over staffed or less affected by a layoff, but only after a true accounting of the rest is done.


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