eric dillner has resigned as managing director of milwaukee's skylight opera theatre, it was announced at a 3 p.m. meeting of the full skylight staff. the news was delivered by interim board president terry kurtenbach, and an announcement to the skylight board of directors followed shortly thereafter.
joan lounsbery will return to milwaukee from her home in santa rosa, california to assume the role of interim managing director, and colin cabot, also a former managing and artistic director of the company, will return as interim artistic director.
bill theisen, the artistic director who's position was eliminated on june 16 – an event that became the catalyst for weeks of angst, frustration, protests, and national publicity – will resume his duties as director of four shows he was previously under contract for: barber of seville, plaid tidings, marriage of figaro, and the long and the short of it, for which cabot and his wife, actress/singer paula cabot have agreed to return to perform in.
UPDATE 8:25 p.m. – joan lounsbery has released the following statement about the developments in milwaukee, and her return to the company on august 24th:
"I am honored that the Skylight's Board of Directors has invited me to return to Milwaukee to serve as Interim Managing Director. I am especially pleased to be working alongside Colin Cabot in his role as Interim Artistic Director.UPDATE 9:40 p.m. – tom strini reports that skylight marketing director kristin godfrey has said all performers who had been fired by dillner or quit their roles would be restored.
I have every intention of doing my part to quickly restore the Company to its position of national prominence and to work with the board, the staff, the artists, the subscriber and donor community, the press and the public at large to ensure a stellar 50th anniversary season. I can't wait!"
the full skylight press release:
Managing Director Eric Dillner Resigns
Milwaukee, WI, (August 5, 2009) - Interim Board President Terry Kurtenbach today regretfully announced the resignation of Skylight Opera Theatre Managing Director Eric Dillner. Dillner said, "I had to make many difficult decisions to streamline the company and it is now best for me to step aside and let someone else carry it forward."
"The decisions to lay off several valued employees, eliminate positions through attrition, reduce artist fees and ask staff to take furloughs, though unpopular, were necessary in order to address the Skylight's budget gaps and help secure its viability in the future," said Kurtenbach. "Eric is a strong manager willing to make difficult decision with professionalism, honesty and integrity. The Board of Directors and I appreciate Eric's service to the Skylight during the challenging times brought on by the national economic crisis. We thank him for his commitment to the Skylight and wish him the best."
"During the current difficult economic climate, many performing arts organizations have faced staff reductions," said Dillner. "As the economy took its toll on the Skylight's fortunes, the Executive Committee and I made these extremely difficult decisions in order to preserve the financial viability of this extraordinary company."
Eric Dillner, a professional artist in his own right, came to the Skylight from the Shreveport Opera, where he successfully weathered 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina during his seven-year tenure. He has devoted the last decade to building companies, audiences and artists' careers. He will continue consulting with the Skylight, but will engage in other pursuits to build and develop artists, nonprofit companies and build future audiences. He plans also to further develop topic-based outreach programs such as "Herman the Horse: a Healthy Tail" and "Why Dinosaurs Don't Smoke".
"I wish the Skylight the best in all its future endeavors and leave it in the hands of a capable staff, and fiscally responsible and caring Board of Directors. It is an amicable departure." Dillner added, "I am thankful for the support I have received here in Milwaukee and from around the globe."
The Board of Directors plans to explore a full range of options as it considers Dillner's successor. Two Skylight alumni, Joan Lounsbery and Colin Cabot, have graciously offered to help manage the company in the interim until a replacement can be identified.
The Skylight will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary Season in 2009-2010. The season will open on September 18th with a beloved opera The Barber of Seville, sung in English, as is all work at Skylight Opera Theatre. The season includes an exciting line-up of shows featuring the full range of music theatre for which the Skylight is known. The season, produced at the Broadway Theatre Center, will also include Plaid Tidings, The Marriage of Figaro, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, and RENT. Enthusiasm for this season continues to be high.