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Christopher Stowell Resigns from Oregon Ballet Theatre 31 DecemberAnne Mueller Named Interim Artistic Director (21 Dec)


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#1 Helene

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 10:43 AM

I just received the following press release from Oregon Ballet Theatre:

November 28, 2012 – PORTLAND, OR.  Oregon Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Christopher Stowell has submitted his resignation to the Oregon Ballet Theatre board, concluding nine years at the helm of the organization.
 
From Christopher Stowell,

“After careful consideration and thoughtful reflection, I have submitted my resignation as Artistic Director of Oregon Ballet Theatre effective at the end of December. OBT’s Board of Trustees has determined that the organization must adopt a new business model and, after much thought, I have come to the conclusion that I am not the best candidate to lead OBT into that future.

To our dedicated audiences, I want to say thank you for your support of my work during my time at OBT. I believe that classical ballet, as an art form, has a great deal to offer this community and hope that you will continue to support OBT as an audience member and donor for many years to come. It has been the greatest honor of my life to work with everyone at Oregon Ballet Theatre. As I move on to new challenges and new frontiers, my experiences at OBT will go with me and for that you have my thanks.”   

Oregon Ballet Theatre Board Chair, Ken Hick, says of Christopher’s departure,

“The Board of Trustees of Oregon Ballet Theatre is greatly appreciative of Christopher Stowell’s superb artistic leadership for almost a decade. He has created a ballet company that represents our community in its highest and brightest light. During Christopher’s tenure, OBT has become a company of national renown and international reach. Never one to rest on past accomplishments, Christopher has always pushed the limits of his own abilities and has been a model to all our dancers of how to reach higher in every performance. The Board is excited for Christopher’s next step and wish him success in all his future endeavors.”
 
The OBT Staff and Board are working together to develop plans for assuring continuing top quality performances for the remainder of this Season and, with the help of key external resources, will determine how Oregon Ballet Theatre will move forward on its long term strategic plans.


This is not good news.

#2 kbarber

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 11:04 AM

can't think why an artist would find himself at odds with a board that can deliver such felicitous phraseology as
"with the help of key external resources, will determine how Oregon Ballet Theatre will move forward on its long term strategic plans." Posted Image

#3 GianninaM

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:23 PM

Posted Image

Giannina

#4 bart

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:24 PM

"New business model." Dread words indeed, when it means something (what?) that drives someone with Stowell's vision and accomplishment to resign. Good luck to everyone involved.

#5 sandik

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:38 PM

This is not good news.


This is bad news.

I wish them nothing but good luck -- I see the company a couple times a year and have followed their development with pleasure, but this is a real blow.

#6 Helene

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:46 PM

Well, my first reaction wasn't appropriate for the board.

#7 Jayne

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:05 PM

Will this be another Ballet San Jose debacle? I'm worried that OBT just doesn't have the financial backing of enough donors and grant dollars to sustain a beautiful rep season with 30-35 full dancers and all the support staff required. What a sad time. I give Mr. Stowell credit for guiding the company through rough waters during the past 5 years.

#8 SandyMcKean

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:07 PM

I too am shocked and saddened. I am able to go to Portland occasionally to see OBT, and I've always enjoyed it. OBT is a fine company. In my mind, I've given credit to Stowell for much of that. I can only imagine financial hard times.....which nearly always creates suboptimal strategies.

I have little doubt that Stowell will land on his feet somewhere. He's certainly well connected in both Seattle and San Francisco.

#9 sandik

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:35 PM

Like most of us, I'm very curious to know more about the "new business model" that the board proposed, and that seems to be the straw on the camel's back for Stowell. I saw the company in October (and haven't written up my notes yet for BA) and thought they were looking very, very well -- this is an unwelcome change.

#10 pherank

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:47 PM

Like most of us, I'm very curious to know more about the "new business model" that the board proposed, and that seems to be the straw on the camel's back for Stowell. I saw the company in October (and haven't written up my notes yet for BA) and thought they were looking very, very well -- this is an unwelcome change.


I'm immediately reminded of the San Jose Ballet fiasco with Nahat being forced out to no good end.

#11 sandik

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:09 PM

Interesting article (and equally interesting comments) on Oregon Arts Watch

#12 kbarber

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:56 AM

From an article in the Oregonian:
"Harold Goldstein, the board vice chairman, echoed Hick's assertion that no dollar target is on the table. What's being considered, he said, is a business plan no longer built around an annual production budget but instead one that "explains for each ballet how we're going to pay for it. ... Maybe I'm pie in the sky, but I don't think money is going to be our problem."

Suggests to me they want every ballet to pay for itself, which we know never works when you're planning a season. You have to use some ballets to subsidize others.

Meanwhile the same article had this telling caption to a photo

Revered -- but expensive -- ballet classics such as "The Sleepy [sic] Beauty" (which featured Lucas Threefoot in this scene from Christopher Stowell's version in 2010) might be out of OBT's reach if it's [sic] budget is significantly reduced.

#13 sandik

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 10:08 AM

Oh ouch, that's a really wince-inducing typo!

[btw - I'm biased, but I just wanted to say how proud I am of the arts journalists in Portland who are covering this -- this kind of fast-breaking, unexpected news is tricky to cover in any context, but they are doing an excellent job.]

This quote from Hughley's article

"And without adequate ranks, they might lose permission from The Balanchine Trust to perform George Balanchine works such as "The Nutcracker," which opens Dec. 8."

was particularly interesting to me, considering the timing of this announcement.

#14 Helene

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 11:33 AM

I haven't heard that the board is planning to reduce the number of dancers right away, and if "Nutcracker" can't come closest to paying for itself, that's frightening in itself.

I can't help wonder if the season had opened with "Swan Lake" if the board would have gotten cold feet, although the underlying nerves must have been exacerbated when large donors from the major campaign didn't follow trough with additional donations (from the OAW article).

Portland is a small market to sustain the number of major arts organizations it has, and the younger demographic is a lighter donor base, traditionally.

#15 SandyMcKean

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 09:21 PM

Portland is a funny city town...................and in those last 2 words is the story.


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