CriticalDance Forum

When boards screw up
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Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Mar 29, 2007 3:32 pm ]
Post subject:  When boards screw up

There have been a couple of articles posted in the forum lately about companies closing or firing artistic director, and they tend to read as if the boards are seriously remiss in their duties. The two stories that come to mind immediately are the anoouncement that Ballet Pacifica is shutting its doors (link to topic) and the announcement that Lone Star Ballet has fired it's artistic director for the third time in four years (link to topic).

So my question is this. Am I being overly cynical? Is this NOT a complete failure on the part of the Boards of these companies to effectively lead and support their companies while not letting their own vanities get involved?

I once worked at a theater company who's board seemed to think that it's job was to drink chardonnay at garden parties thrown by the artistic director's wife. When it was mentioned to them that they might want to think about raising money to replace the 40 year old lighting board, they seemed rather confused.

Author:  shoelessjoe [ Fri Mar 30, 2007 2:12 pm ]
Post subject: 

Interesting subject. I don't think you are being overly cynical, but the reasons for these failures can be very complex. I think boards can be too optimistic, possibly the case with Ballet Pacifica. I was surprised to read that they only had 100 students in the school when they closed. I do know it's a well respected school and Evelyn Cisneros would be a HUGE draw as a teacher.

Board recruitment is a huge issue and board members need to know that fund raising is one of their responsibilities. Board members need to police eachother about filling their fund raising quotas. People shrink from this in social settings.

Sometimes board members lack an understanding of how a non-profit works and what their role is. They do need to know what is happening financially and be ahead of problems and plan for disasters.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Mar 30, 2007 3:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

There may be points addressed in this topic (begun in 2000) germane to this discussion:

It's all about fundraising all the time; the three "Gs" are "give, get or get off."

Author:  ingve [ Sat Apr 14, 2007 2:28 am ]
Post subject: 

Each board have a different tradition.

And what can seam very difficult for some boards is the challenge of combining artistically interests with financial interest.

To change a certain tradition in a board can be very difficult, and how to approach board members with suggestions for changes can be an art in itself.


Author:  LMCtech [ Mon Apr 16, 2007 12:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

A very good point, ingve. Thank you.

I agree that changing the culture of a board can be very difficult. If the small board of a small company suddenly gets very ambitious because of a few new members with a mission, that can be VERY dangerous. I wonder if that is part of what happened in Orange County.

I think the mantra for ANY board, I don't care where you are or what kind of company or what the fundraising environment is, should be "sustained slow growth".

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