Thursday, July 23, 2009

skylight board backs dillner

an emergency meeting of the skylight opera theatre board of directors tonight ended with a very close vote to retain eric dillner as managing director.

skylight board president suzanne hefty has stepped down, and was replaced by terry kurtenbach, who will remain president only through the board's annual meeting in seven weeks. kurtenbach has agreed to be interim president with the express charge that eric dillner demonstrate that he can heal the rift with the artistic community.

eric dillner and colin cabot will meet with the artistic community in catalano square tomorrow morning, friday july 24th at 9:00 am. cabot has asked that the community come and be “professional, forward-looking, and focusing on a positive direction” and to give dillner a chance to make amends.

from tom strini:
Cabot...called upon the board to fire Dillner, but they refused to do so in a close vote.

Cabot said that he got the board and Dillner to agree to meet with dissidents in Catalano Square in the Third Ward at 9 a.m. Friday (July 24). "Eric has agreed to answer his critics," Cabot said. "It's gonna be a food fight."

Cabot plans to fly in for that event.

He said that he had offered to come back to Milwaukee to serve as interim managing director and "repair the breach" by bringing back Theisen and the many cast members who had spurned their contracts or had been fired by Dillner. The board turned him down.

"This boggles my mind," Cabot said. "It's incredible."

He seemed determined to press his case further, despite Tuesday's board vote. Cabot sits on the company's influential board of advocates, which is to meet Friday afternoon.

47 comments:

  1. well, I was going to return my subscription today, but decided to wait. Now I don't know what to do.

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  2. THEY VOTED TO KEEP HIM????? WTF does someone have to do to get his ass fired?

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  3. was there anyone at that emergency meeting to represent the local artists? was there anyone at that meeting who has a true sense of what is going on outside the board room?

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  4. Half that board sucks, and the other half doesnt. I feel bad for the half of the board that doesn't suck, because they were outnumbered here. Dilner's got a lot of work ahead of him. Good luck, A**face!

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  5. This is unbelievable. Is he blowing everyone on the board? Sorry to be crass, but what else can it be? Has he cast a magic spell over them all? I'm sickened by this.

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  6. yes becky - about half the board members actually DO give a sh*t about local artists and appreciate the artistic and theatrical worlds outside the baord room. But, sadly, they were outnumbered tonight. :(

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  7. I would like to remind everyone that the meeting of Milwaukee arts lovers is at 8am in Catalano Square. 8am. Not 9am. Mr. Dillner is welcome to come then. And everyone is welcome to leave at 9am to get about the business of making art in Milwaukee.

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  8. I feel most bad for Colin Cabot tonight - this is HIS theater and HIS name getting dragged through the dirt. If only there didn't need to be a vote. If only CC could've been the only vote that matters. Well, CC and the few GOOD board members who will no doubt resign now...Why would you want to stay on a sinking ship?

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  9. Read Strini's blog; Cabot called him after the meeting and revealed something even more amazing:

    http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/entertainment/51533307.html

    In short, Cabot asked the board to fire Dillner. He even said he would move back here and be the interim managing director.

    The declined.

    Excuse me, but...

    W T F???

    -p.

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  10. But if Mr Dillner's keeping his job depends on his mending fences with the artistic community, I think that is progress. Hoping so, anyway.

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  11. I have learned of this from postings on Facebook. I do think you should not forget that the SOT has legal issues here. They hired Mr. Dillner. That was a bold step. They obviously have a policy regarding hiring the handicapped. We should all be in awe of how much Mr. Dillner can achieve with his head up his ass.

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  12. Did they read the letters from the artists? The donors? The volunteers? Obviously not. This. Changes. Nothing.

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  13. I think that we need to follow Colin's lead. We've been wanting a forum to talk about the issues face to face and that's what will be happening tomorrow. Colin's asked us to be professional and that's what we need to be. We'll get nothing, absolutely nothing, accomplished otherwise!

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  14. Can someone record the meeting, Jonathan + camera, please. I would like to hear some apologies come from Dillner himself.

    Good luck to all at the meeting. We will think of you all, as you restrain and try to listen to his reason. Then... you can let him have it.

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  15. Jonathan, everyone is also welcome to stay if that's when Eric actually shows up. I think it would be great to have an hour or so to prepare for this event anyway.

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  16. One would think that the man whose job hinges on mending fences in the artistic community would make it at 8am. That's all I'm saying. Of course I'll be there.

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  17. How fantastic that he's given us so much advance warning. I'll do my best, but will probably not be able to attend.

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  18. Please know that CC wants more than anything to salvage the Skylight and guide it back to what it has been -- he is livid about this and will be in Milwaukee until Sunday trying to settle this the right way.

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  19. After he apologizes (or whatever he intends to do)...................I think we should do what THEY should have done in the first place.............start brainstorming creative ideas to address the budget shortfalls. Show the board and Dillner that the ARTISTS will be the ones to get this thing back on track. He can sit there and watch us be productive and see how REAL problem solving evolves. Bring your ideas at 8AM, so we can get our ducks in a row. Then greet him with a loud SILENCE when he shows up. It'll be interesting to hear him "make nice." He can sit and listen to the rest of our meeting.

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  20. Mend the fences with the artist, yes. What about the staff that was let go. Some because they didn't play Eric's game? They need to be hired back. Can anything be mended? He does not respect the staff or artist!

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  21. Seems that CC is simply stirring more poo. Go to the breakfast. Listen to what Dillner has to say. Say what you have to say. If you truly want to save the company you need to work with him.

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  22. Staff was supposedly cut because of budget shortfalls and no other options were explored. That's where being creative comes in. The staff cuts obviously have to be included in this whole conversation.

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  23. i am the child of a board member who fought for the artistic community and lost tonight.
    im in chicago tonight, but you can bet your ass im gonna be there to stand with all of you tomorrow.

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  24. Holy cow, earlier tonight I told my husband that the only thing that could salvage this (and the Skylight) was to have Dillner fired and to beg Colin to come back as interim director. Then I read that this was proposed and turned down? Is the board a bunch of idiots or what? What is Dillner doing to have such a spell over the board? Dillner himself said he wasn't familiar with musical theater. What's going on here?

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  25. Score Board:
    votes cast:

    Pro-Skylight = 12
    v.
    Pro-Dillner = 16

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  26. Your score board is not accurate. Dillner+Skylight=viable

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  27. I just have to ask-- why does Eric Dillner even want to stay after all this? Wouldn't any self-respecting person say "This is bigger than my ego, and I'm not the right person for this job?" Wouldn't he care enough about the institution he was hired to lead to step aside when it's clear he cannot lead it effectively?

    Eric, if you are reading this (and I'm betting you are) please understand that I don't think you're a bad person-- but I do think you're a foolish one if you think you can stay on with any hint of credibility or dignity.

    The best way to make amends to the many artists and Skylight supporters that you have alienated (and salvage your reputation to boot) is to go to Catalano park tomorrow and resign. You got the board's support today. Take that victory and then do the noble thing and cede the field tomorrow.

    Robb Gries

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  28. If Dillner has one ounce of dignity, he will take the opportunity to step down himself at this point. A tight board vote plus the strong "no confidence" vote from the community should make it clear that his time here is up. You can't mend fences that have been completely destroyed.

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  29. Well said, Robb!

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  30. Well said, Mr. Gries. Time will tell.

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  31. Unreal! Just what the hell to the board members think they're gaining by holding on to Eric Dillner? A brilliant strategist? A visionary leader? A financial whiz kid? Just what goes on behind the closed doors of those board meetings boggles the mind.

    Mr. Gries nailed it. Bow your head, Eric, and bow out with any shred of dignity you may have left.

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  32. 12 + 16 = 28

    Aren't there 37 board members? What happened to the other 9?

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  33. i so wish i was there with you guys... :(

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  34. one of the few smart things done since this clusterfuck is Hefty stepping done. bravo! and no encore.

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  35. At least thats one down.

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  36. Deanna Smith ScotlandJuly 24, 2009 at 2:56 AM

    While I am not an active part of the Milwaukee Art Community, I have watched with great interest the events of the past weeks. I grew up in Milwaukee, and have always been proud of both the quantity and quality of live theater that is available here. I have sat in your audiences, and watched many of my friends develop and hone their craft. I now live and work (as a musician) in Fort Worth, Texas, a city that reminds me so much of my beloved hometown. I have spent the last six years preaching the virtues of Milwaukee’s patronage of the arts, to the possible annoyance of my friends. It is sad that the Skylight is in such a state of shambles, but from an outside view, I have seen something beautiful happening. We all know that this business is highly competitive, with many incredibly talented actors, dancers, singers and directors, and a limited amount of roles and productions. Often this leads to what can only be called bad behavior, backstabbing and gossip mongering.

    The Milwaukee community has for the most part stood together. There is a sense of community, standing together to preserve the dignity of the work you do and the organization you love. From the people who bravely refused contracts, to the respect for those who chose to honor their contracts you have shown that “the plays the thing.” I pray that the 50th season of the Skylight goes on to be the best year ever, that the wounds from this battle will heal in time, and that in the future, when there is temptation to be divisive, you will remember that you stood shoulder to shoulder to protect and preserve what you all so obviously love.
    Best Regards
    Deanna Smith Scotland

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  37. Deanna,

    Your comment is most insightful from outside our walls as you summarize the spirit that is Milwaukee Theatre. This example of current and past professionals, (as well as audiences and critics), coming together for the good of the art form, is not unusual for our city. It's a part of why we choose to live and work here. Thanks for noticing.

    We are proud of our collaborative spirit as the Equity News wrote a few years back. Just so you know, in the past that cohesiveness has been used for happier expenditures than this. We don't just come together in crisis. Competitive - sometimes. Collaborative - always.

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  38. Eric is being forced to do this (whatever he is going to do). Does anyone feel this will be heartfelt? If so he would have done it on his own before. Can anyone really work for him knowing how little repect he has for the artists and staff? Dillner+Skylight=viable? Did I miss something? This is a joke, right?
    He should do the right thing and step down.

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  39. If Eric stays everyone will be on pins and needles.

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  40. I don't support the decisions in recent weeks in any way. Something that I'm sure is on Eric's mind though is that he has a family to support.

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  41. The artists who refused to work for such an unreasonable man who created this rediculously sad situation also have families to support. And we all know theatre jobs don't just grow on trees for even the most talented artists. Yet they all took steps based on something beyond their personal needs.

    Eric has a family to support? Try an appointment an Manpower. You're not cut out to manage the Skylight sir. This you have proven time and time again.

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  42. God Bless Colin - he's my hero!

    To the BOD who voted to retain Dillner: When the Skylight tanks, you'll drop our beloved theatre like a hot potato and leave Dillner holding the bag and all the "I told you so's" will haunt you. What a legacy you leave to the arts community of Milwaukee. Unbelievable gall.

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  43. Please keep us posted on what happens. There are many of us watching this from a distance who are equally outraged and concerned.

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  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  45. Even I could not attend today's meeting at the park, I did drive by it on my way to my office after an early appointment. There is a large group of what looks to be 200+ people at this morning's meeting with Cabot & Dillner.

    It will be interesting to see what comes of this discussion.

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