With all the headlines lately regarding labor disputes/lockouts/general malaise in the orchestral world, I’ve had some pretty interesting conversations regarding the general level of management expertise that currently prevails in arts administration. Even so, the latest news from the New Jersey Symphony caught me by surprise.
At least he made it nine days. To me the bigger question lies with the Board (as is often the case)- more specifically, how did this guy get so far? According the to Times piece, Stephen Sichak, the orchestra’s co-chair, admitted they knew of the criminal history as well as questions about Mr. Dare’s résumé and business accomplishments. And a “thorough background check” was performed that seemed to satisfy everyone.
Is this considered due diligence when a non-profit of this size hires an executive? Why was the NYT able to uncover what were (at the very least) serious issues of ethics and character that did not seem to bother the NJSO Board, even though their patrons would obviously (and correctly) raise significant concerns? Not to mention how all this seems to have gotten past the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Huffington Post, and Musical America.
Here is some advice to any orchestra currently in the midst of a CEO search:
- don’t completely rely on a search firm or the League.
- do a Google search.
- don’t ignore red flags and assume your audience is also stupid enough to ignore them.
- consider thinking way outside the box, like we did.
I know the conventional wisdom is that the bench just isn’t that deep these days, with major groups like the New York Philharmonic and Dallas Symphony taking years to find the right person. But is it possible that there are actually highly qualified people out there that don’t quite fit into the traditional search procedures?
How about a “new model” for filling top management positions?