50 Reasons Why Opera Cleveland is in Trouble

You should look into the opera a little deaper - this was perfunctory ["The Fat Lady's Finale?" March 7]. See below: 50 Easy Steps to Remove a Major Metropolitan Opera Company 1. Begin Search for new General Director of company. Ignore the 3-year oportunity for such. Do not research background of candidates, and do not listen to professional staff for suggestions or input. Don't even do a google search on candidate — too revealing! 2. Hire duplicate General Director during contract with previous. Pay both. 3. Hire duplicate Marketing Director during contract with previous. Pay Both. 4. Hire duplicate Director of Development. Pay Both. 5. Since new General Director is not an artistic director (unlike previous), hire additional Artistic Advisor. He'll commute 16 hours at your cost. 6. Be sure new leadership also ignores advice, training and expertise of seasoned staff. 7. Ignore advice of departing management regarding fiscal challenges. Instead, balance budget by putting in a bigger revenue number — do not identify new sources of funding. 8. Pay for housing of new General Director. 9. Pay for cell phone of General Director. 10. Pay for high-end Golf Club Membership for General Director. 11. Ignore company mission statement: grand opera in a financially viable manner. 12. Spend amazingly on self and senior staff comforts. Run out of money by second show. 13. Following first cash crisis, ignore continued projections of insolvency 14. "Fix" the self-sustaining education & outreach department — freeloaders! - and decrease their staff. Increase their revenue projections to support remainder of company. 15. Remove most seasoned, flexible, and knowledgeable staff member. 16. Sales fall. Advertise next opera during re-runs of "Sanford and Son". 17. Lower sales goals beneath budget projections to make your company look good. "Just miss" those goals. 18. Allow flippant spending to create $1 million deficit in one year. 19. Liquidate endowment to compensate for deficit. Do not ask permission from donors to do so. 20. Respond to decreasing ticket demand by expanding season by ten performances; i.e., meet the decreased demand with increased supply (read that again...). 21. Spend $30,000 on a marketing brochure; waste money on page showing sold out one man show. 22. As subscription brochures are a) late, b) huge, c) expensive and confusing, discard remaining brochures. Besides, recipients throw it away thinking it's an annual report! 23. Structure new season budget with $500,000 deficit. 24. Tell staff you want to keep everyone. Fire all customer service staff. 25. Entire Marketing Department quits. As this proves the marketing director must be excellent, ignore it. 26. Fire Event-Coordinator. Hire Associate Director to continue same duties at double the salary. 27. Hire General Director to conduct opera. Be sure to pay him for that. Accept declaration that he will be unavailable for 6 weeks before that production. Continue directors pay as well during absence. 28. After finding out General Director is publicly on a "Swingers" website, "discover" that he's been bad with money. Allow him to "resign". Pay him anyway (why stop? You're still paying for the previous General Director anyway.). 29. Promote Artistic Advisor to Artistic Director; but don't tell him. 30. Send new press announcement when Artistic Advisor declines above position. 31. Create Operating Committee to run company, making sure no members have arts-management experience. 32. Produce newsletter with banner dates misspelled (Deccember [sic]). Blame staff. 33. Contrary to past successes, decide from "resigned" General Director's advice that a deficit year is best for merging with equally cash-poor company. Do not consult staff for their opinions. 34. Contrary to past successes, decide deficit year is the best season to cancel sales of further seasons, when cash flow is most challenging. Assume new money will "occur". 35. With severe cash flow crisis in progress, spend $60,000 to upgrade database. 36. Sign contract to replace paid-for computers with $1,000 leased machines. Assume you can print money. 37. When selecting and installing new software and hardware, remove IT person from decision-making. Then ask for help fixing resultant problems. 38. Continue to miss lowered goals. Advertise on "Bravo" network. 39. Create marketing postcard with scanned photo blown up 50 times bigger than original. Pretend pictured singer does not look greased as a result. 40. In order to obtain funding to deal with cash flow crisis and merger, spend $40,000 on consultant to write a three-year business plan. Do not give sample season or budget to this business planner. 41. Give executive staff five days to make realistic budgetary projections; again, do not base it on any specific repertoire. 42. With no production management in place, assign budget for two main stage productions based on "what seems reasonable." Do not consult experts in deciding what may be reasonable. 43. Numbers show a continued structural deficit: i.e., merger is a bad idea. Change numbers. As purpose is to give funders a "one opera company or none" proposition, leave them no choice but to give you money in hopes you'll change. Besides, you'll blame the staff when company doesn't reach those mythical numbers anyway. 44. Announce that there will be zero layoffs due to the merger. Then, fire seven staff due to the merger. Fire 4 more later. 45. Do not inform community of merger or specifics thereof; let the media "leak" it. 46. After media announcement, spend $1,000 on mailing revealing less information than the media leak. 47. Announce you are "right-sizing" the company to make the remaining staff feel secure (?!?). 48. Fire website designer, but order her to train new inexperienced replacement. Complain when she's busy with a new workload, and isn't available for you. 49. Send President on stage before each performance with repetitious gag of mutilated furniture. 50. Finally, merge the two companies. Be sure to elect the same president. Former Opera Emplyee Cleveland
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