The problem is, will anyone -- artists, donors, potential new donors, staff, potential new staff, -- believe him?
I'm far from privy to what goes on behind the scenes there, but Goldsborough's recent arrival and early departure looks to me like a sign of confusion, but not of imminent collapse or other catastrophe. Mainly a blip, if a high-profile one at that. Some of the statements about and from him (I am a small contributor) made me a little dubious, because, as an audience member, I hear comments from my fellow audience and wonder how some of the company's efforts are directed toward our satisfaction, rather than carrying out some generic marketing strategy. One size does not fit all, especially when you are selling the experience of art.
(Overhearing nearby neighbor's questions, I'll offer some enlightenment, based on experience; this may go several rounds, and lead to the question,"You know so much. Are you with the company?" and my usual quip, "No, I'm with the audience." That's my
point of view, and I speak (and write) from it, but I think it needs to be addressed more generally. The best critics do that, of course.)
Michael Kaiser's arrival should only help. If they pay him handsomely to tell them what his inexpensive publications have already been saying, they may pay closer attention. (Okay, I'm a cynic.) But they will get custom-tailored advice. I don't think anybody knows everything - Kaiser's blog in the Huffington Post makes clear his good humor about the messages he gets telling him he doesn't know anything - but I believe the stories I've read in The Art of the Turnaround
, and his Strategic Planning
seems a practical guide to arts management based on experience, even if it scants what the content
of arts publicity should be to be effective.
For example, the current campaign to tell everybody dancing is hard
brings people into the theater to look for what they're not going to see, in my experience. Jennifer Homans worries about the death of ballet, and I worry that this sort of thing, necessitating in its extreme form artistic direction to please those who the marketers can lure in - a phenomenon Kaiser has expressly and firmly advised against - will kill it as we know it.
He has other things to say, remembered even by this casual reader - like the idea that deficits, contrary to what some people think, are not inevitable, then to be made up: deficits are unnecessary.
Okay? Artistic direction must not be done by the marketing department - offer art of high quality, he says, first, and market it - and you don't have to run a deficit. From a guy who knows? Anybody worried about the future of MCB might be feeling a little better, or is it just me? He can only advise; some lunatic major contributor, if there is one, could still wreck the ship, I suppose - we learn now something of the kind was behind Villella's premature dismissal - but MCB may make it.
They may make it back to Paris, where I couldn't go to see them, where their repertory was more appealing to me than what they do in Florida. Will better marketing find a better audience on their home turf?