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 Post subject: Jason Horowitz (NY Observer) Piece on NYCB
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 3:22 pm 
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The New York Observer has run a lengthy piece by Jason Horowitz on recent history at New York City Ballet. Comments will be most welcome.

NY Observer


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2005 3:48 pm 
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No comment.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2005 5:58 pm 
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Ditto, no comment. In fact, "Who Cares?"


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2005 2:45 am 
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I'm remote from the doings at NYCB, but I have to say that from what I have read and the one interview I saw with Peter Martins, I have the impression that he would not be considered "a good listener". And if you are a active Board member with a big cheque book, not unreasonably, you do expect to be listened to, even if you don't get your way.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 10:08 am 
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Quote:
But many board members discounted that theory and said the real issue was finding someone who would follow, not fight, Mr. Martins. “You have to get along with Peter. It’s a tie-in sale,” said board member Lee Slaughter, who supports Mr. Martins. “If they don’t like it, then you can pack up and leave. You are giving them money; that’s the reason you are there.”

“There was a lot of conflict, ego-tripping,” said Nancy Lassalle, the board’s secretary and a longtime patron of the ballet, referring to Ms. Davidson. “It was very sad. Had I given my life to this type of nonsense? The way to fix it was what happened: People left. Suzanne left. And now we are back on track.”


I can't believe two members of the board of trustees of a major arts organization would be caught saying anything like the above... Last I looked, one condition for the granting of non-profit status is a board drawn from the community to oversee and ensure the company serves the community. Maybe someone ought to call the NY Secretary of State?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 10:20 am 
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I wouldn't be so worried. Hardly unusual and the words of disgruntled former board members may well not be gospel truth. NYCB certainly serves the community well.

Frankly this articles strikes me as a space filler when they don't want to print yet another Nutcracker review. It's mostly just old stories dragged up to fill in a story that there are few hard facts about. And the reporter makes enough mistakes anyway.

And I certainly would dismiss a student for throwing something across a studio in a fit of pique. Violence and tempers like that have no place in the theatre.

Kate


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 11:40 am 
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I could see Peter Martins cloning himself to maintain his rule of NYCB for eternity!

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 11:56 am 
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I'm with Azlan here; the Board of any organisation must question the executive management in order to perform the Board's duty to the various relevant interest groups; in the case of a not-for-profit dance company that is not just the Artistic Director.

I won't take sides on the question of performance standards at NYCB, as I do not have the necessary experience of the Company to comment. But, I have to point out that there is a significant group of long-term NYCB watchers who feel that Mr Martins serves neither the best interests of the Company nor of the community and the NYCB Board should at least be reflecting on those views.

In general and NOT with specific reference to NYCB, strong Boards should not simply bow to public opinion, but they should be prepared to question the AD's policies and even be prepared to get rid of him, in the interests of the Company. This has happened with a number of companies, even in the past 3 years.

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“You have to get along with Peter. It’s a tie-in sale,” said board member Lee Slaughter, who supports Mr. Martins. “If they don’t like it, then you can pack up and leave. You are giving them money; that’s the reason you are there.”


I'm more familiar with the siutation regarding Boards in the Uk, but if someone did follow this approach here, if things went wrong, then they could be seen as acting negligently with respect to the duties of a Board member and, at worst, that can land you in prison. When I was a Governor of a school here, we were told: "Do get properly trained at the optional evening classes, as failure in your duties can result in custodial sentences."


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 12:54 pm 
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And, oh, to put things in perspective, Martins must have made at least $600,000 last year as an "Independent Contractor" not counting various other highly valuable non-monetary perks. This information is open to the public as NYCB is still a non-profit public benefit corporation.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 1:02 pm 
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Years and years and years ago the naïve, wishful child in me thought that at some point Peter Martins would hand over the reigns to the Elusive Muse. I gave up that thought a long time ago. The only way Peter Martins will relinquish his grip upon NYCB is through natural causes!

The last time I saw him was at the Hummingbird Centre for the Contract. He did not look very impressed. At least he has good taste. Nobody has really explored what happened between Suzanne Farrell and NYCB. It would seem only natural that she would continue her career at NYCB.

This is juicy and disturbing stuff to read on Christmas Day!

Quote:
Some years later, one newspaper reported that during a benefit gala, Ms. Watts, Mr. Martins’ former girlfriend, snapped at Anne Bass.

“‘You write the checks for his ballets, but I get to wear his underwear,’” she reportedly said—“and then lifted her dress to prove the point.”

“Oh, everyone knows about that,” Ms. Watts told New York Newsday in 1988 when asked about the incident, adding that she and Ms. Bass were friends and mutual admirers.

Indeed, Ms. Bass’ relationship with Mr. Martins at the time was by all accounts fruitful and close, and remained so even as Mr. Martins himself entered an increasingly tempestuous period.

In 1990, Mr. Robbins left the company, and Mr. Martins finally had it to himself. The following year, Mr. Martins married Darci Kistler after first dating her when she joined the company, according to news reports chronicling the couple’s relationship.

A year later, he was arrested by police in Saratoga Springs, the company’s summer home, for allegedly beating his new bride. The Daily News headline read: “Ballet Bully: NYC Ballet Boss busted in beating of ballerina wife.”

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 3:07 pm 
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Azlan wrote:
Last I looked, one condition for the granting of non-profit status is a board drawn from the community to oversee and ensure the company serves the community.


Having this in mind, should community-oriented organizations air their dirty laundry like this? On the one hand, the community being served should know what's happening inside their company, but on the other hand, it makes resolving differences that much more difficult, since public face-saving and other ego-saving maneuvers are now required because of public exposure.

I think things like that should be kept in private, and as long as the shows go on, and standards maintained (and this is obviously a point of contention for NYCB), I really don't want to know how it's done. Sort of like not looking inside the sausage factory.

--Andre


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 4:04 pm 
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Personally I believe it’s better companies air their dirty underwear in public.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 10:52 pm 
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Whoa-ho! I'm gone just for the afternoon to a family Christmas dinner and the discussion has already taken a turn south... Can we try to keep this discussion, um, civilized and keep away from the personal issues of invididuals? There's a lot of stuff just to talk about in the public realm already that we shouldn't need to delve into intimate portrayals.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2005 11:05 pm 
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Andre Yew wrote:
Azlan wrote:
Last I looked, one condition for the granting of non-profit status is a board drawn from the community to oversee and ensure the company serves the community.


Having this in mind, should community-oriented organizations air their dirty laundry like this? On the one hand, the community being served should know what's happening inside their company, but on the other hand, it makes resolving differences that much more difficult, since public face-saving and other ego-saving maneuvers are now required because of public exposure.

I think things like that should be kept in private, and as long as the shows go on, and standards maintained (and this is obviously a point of contention for NYCB), I really don't want to know how it's done. Sort of like not looking inside the sausage factory.

--Andre


Tough one, Andre. Others with more relevant experience might be able to post a response when they get back from their holidays. In my experience, being honest and keeping things under control (which is not the same as keeping things secret mind you) is the best approach.

I think it is very okay to have personal differences and I think it is very okay to admit to that being the reason for a split -- what's wrong with being honest about that? But when you have big egos or at least people used to getting their way, it gets more complicated -- in this case maybe airing dirty laundry is not a bad way to diffuse some of those egos. Honest people don't usually have anything to hide. Ones who behave badly on the other hand...

My bigger concern here is that NYCB's board seems to treat the company in a different sort of way than it was meant to be. The company isn't a private playground and shouldn't be treated that way.

I remember having a few discussions with up and coming choreographer artistic directors trying to put together a board. Here's a typical discussion:

Me: "Be careful who you approach about being on the board. You want a good mix and you want people who can support your vision but with responsibility to the community."

New AD: "What has the community got to do with it?"

Me: "Well, you are a non-profit which is a corporation held in trust for the community with oversight by the community."

New AD: "You mean it's not MY company."

Me: "Hey, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You are seeking tax-deductible public funds, right? Well, the public is your boss."

New AD: "I guess so. But I'll just fire any board member I don't like."

I shake my head in disbelief.

Me: "Um, no. You report to the Board. They fire you!"

New AD: "What?!!!! Then why am I doing this?"

Me: "Good question. Are you doing it for arts' sake or are you doing it for your own ego?"


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 3:25 pm 
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I wonder if Peter Martins returned the favour? :roll:

Will there ever be another Mr. B? Anybody know how much Peter Martins is pulling in as AD? Probably 10 x as much as George Balanchine ever saw.

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