Lincoln Center’s President Quits After a Single, Rocky Year

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
lennygoran
Posts: 14135
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Lincoln Center’s President Quits After a Single, Rocky Year

Post by lennygoran » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:26 am

Lincoln Center’s President Quits After a Single, Rocky Year

By ROBIN POGREBIN and MICHAEL COOPER APRIL 6, 2018

Lincoln Center can’t seem to catch a break.

First Jed Bernstein, its president, was forced to step down 27 months into the job, after the discovery that he had been in a relationship with a staff member.

Now Mr. Bernstein’s successor, Debora L. Spar, the former president of Barnard College, has announced her resignation, just one year after starting in the position.

“Moving from academia to the performing arts world pushed me to think, learn and lead in new ways,” Ms. Spar said on Friday afternoon in a letter sent to colleagues. “While we have achieved a lot together over the past year, I have also questioned whether the role is right for me.”

“As I looked back on the last 12 months, I ultimately determined that the fit I’d hoped for has not materialized,” she continued. “It is for this reason that I have decided it is best for the organization for me to step aside.”

Brought in from outside the arts, Ms. Spar is leaving after a rocky year. Lincoln Center dramatically scaled back plans to rebuild David Geffen Hall; ended one of its summer mainstays, the Lincoln Center Festival; endured tensions between longtime senior staff and members of Ms. Spar’s new team; and grappled with financial challenges, projecting a deficit this year.


Her departure comes only six months after the decision to scuttle the expensive gut renovation of Geffen Hall, the New York Philharmonic’s home at the center, and seek simpler ways to improve it. When Ms. Spar, who started a $400 million capital campaign at Barnard, took over, the plans for the hall were considerably more ambitious, with most of the money needed for the project — estimated at more than $500 million — still to be raised.

But in October, Lincoln Center and the Philharmonic, spooked by the rising price tag and projections that the orchestra would need to leave the hall for several years during construction, announced they were drastically scaling back. It was a major setback for a project that has been mulled for nearly 20 years, and threw cold water on the fire finally ignited by a $100 million gift from the entertainment mogul David Geffen in 2015. After the decision to abandon the gut renovation, Mr. Geffen expressed frustration at the lack of additional support for the project from other wealthy donors.

Lincoln Center has insisted the more minimal plan is not an admission of failure. “We’ve got some great plans that everyone is very excited about,” Katherine Farley, Lincoln Center’s chairwoman, who led the center and oversaw the Geffen Hall rebuilding plans for almost a year between Mr. Bernstein’s departure and Ms. Spar’s arrival, said in an interview.

The revision of the hall’s plans was driven by Deborah Borda, the powerful arts leader who was named president and chief executive of the Philharmonic last year. In an interview, Ms. Borda disputed the idea that there was a clash between her and Ms. Spar.

“She was a great partner to work with on the hall,” Ms. Borda said. “I think she just felt this wasn’t a good fit.”

The Geffen Hall project was not the only retrenchment under Ms. Spar’s watch. In November, the center announced it was pulling the plug on its namesake summer festival in an effort to save money and focus its offerings. But such cuts have not erased the financial struggles facing the center, which said that it is projecting a deficit for the fiscal year that ends in a few months, its first in years.

There has also been turnover among the center’s senior staff. Lesley Rosenthal, the center’s general counsel for 13 years, will leave to become chief operating officer at the Juilliard School this summer.

Soon after she arrived, Ms. Spar hired Bret Silver, who worked with her at Barnard, to be chief strategy and external relations officer. Tamar Podell, the center’s longtime development chief, now reported to Mr. Silver, and chafed at the arrangement, according to two people familiar with recent personnel discussions.

At one point, those people said, Ms. Podell signaled she intended to leave Lincoln Center, but is now staying, according to the center, which declined to comment further on personnel matters. Ms. Podell did not return a call seeking comment. Reached by telephone, Ms. Spar declined to elaborate on her statement.

Given Lincoln Center’s recent history, the 11-year tenure of Reynold Levy, who stepped down in 2013 after overseeing a $1.2 billion overhaul of the center’s campus, looks like the exception. His predecessor, Gordon J. Davis, resigned abruptly in 2001 after a stormy tenure that lasted just nine months.

Ms. Farley said that Lincoln Center’s board would initiate a formal search for her successor in the coming weeks. Russell Granet, the center’s executive vice president of education and community engagement since 2012, has been named acting president.

In a letter to the center’s staff, Ms. Farley wrote, “We understand you may have questions about this change.” She added that there would be a staff meeting on Monday at noon, when “we will have the opportunity to discuss the transition and answer your questions in person.”



https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/06/arts ... ctionfront

maestrob
Posts: 5713
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Lincoln Center’s President Quits After a Single, Rocky Year

Post by maestrob » Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:43 am

Good grief! Geffen Hall needs a freshening up, at least. By now the hall must be looking dingy, to say the least. I have no idea of the acoustics since I haven't been there in more than a decade, but SOMETHING must be done. Hopefully Van Zweden will refresh the spirit of the orchestra, but the condition of the hall is of primary concern.

What's needed is better ticket sales, I suppose, and without the excitement of Leonard Bernstein, who can say what will happen?

Donors have to be motivated, and with the present state of affairs, that doesn't seem to be happening.

jserraglio
Posts: 4832
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: Lincoln Center’s President Quits After a Single, Rocky Year

Post by jserraglio » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:36 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:43 am
SOMETHING must be done. Hopefully Van Zweden will refresh the spirit of the orchestra, but the condition of the hall is of primary concern.
George Szell thought he knew what needed to be done with Philharmonic Hall: "Tear the place down and start over again; the hall is an insult to music." They didn't take his advice in the fat years; now in the lean years, they can't.

John F
Posts: 19974
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Lincoln Center’s President Quits After a Single, Rocky Year

Post by John F » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:08 pm

Reynold Levy is not the only successful chief executive in Lincoln Center's history, though because of the renovation project he raised the most money for LC. He also had a performing arts background, having headed the 92nd Street Y's public programs. Nathan Leventhal, a former deputy mayor and LC's president when I began there as a volunteer, ran the complex for 17 years, and among other achievements created Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Lincoln Center Festival. The composer William Schuman was president during the 1960s, and has the Mostly Mozart festival to his credit. Some of LC's chairmen have done well too, notably Beverly Sills, leaving after 8 years to become chairman of the Met.

But Lincoln Center's board has made some notably poor choices after the departure of Reynold Levy. I suspect Ms. Spar's main attraction to them was that she headed a fundraising campaign at Barnard College for even more money than projected for the renovation of Avery Fisher Hall. Apart from David Geffen's $100 million, however, fundraising for that project appears to be stuck in the mud. Maybe that has something to do with her decision to leave, either her own choice or "suggested" by the chairman Katherine Farley, who was key to the Lincoln Center renovation under Reynold Levy and knows all about it from the inside.

If Ms. Spar got on the wrong side of Tamar Podell, that was terrible politics most likely because Spar, as a newbie, didn't know the lay of the land. "Development" is essentially about fundraising, and apart from special projects like the renovation, it's what keeps LC afloat. The article speaks of recent deficits; instability at the top of the organization has surely made Ms. Podell's job harder. At least it's not she but Ms. Spar who will be leaving.
John Francis

jserraglio
Posts: 4832
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: Lincoln Center’s President Quits After a Single, Rocky Year

Post by jserraglio » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:23 am

Recitation of acoustical problems with Philharmonic Hall from a 1965 radio broadcast. Half century later, there are still problems, though a different set of problems.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_QyVbgTeUM

maestrob
Posts: 5713
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Lincoln Center’s President Quits After a Single, Rocky Year

Post by maestrob » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:48 am

From what I remember, Philharmonic Hall was really a dead space to perform in. The sound from the stage was soaked up by the red velvet covering the floor, seats and walking areas: it was quite awful because you couldn't hear yourself properly. When Avery Fisher put his name on the Hall in 1976(?), the same problems persisted in spite of the gaudy renovation: I simply could not hear myself on stage. Later, Kurt Masur rectified that with the reflectors he had installed, but in my mind Geffen Hall still needs major work to be able to stand with Carnegie Hall, which I've always preferred, whether on stage or off.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 36 guests