ABT Executive Director Louis Spisto resigns
Posted 25 July 2001 - 04:13 PM
STATEMENT BY AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE PRESIDENT ED FOX, ON THE RESIGNATION OF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR LOUIS SPISTO
"During the past two years, American Ballet Theatre Executive Director Louis Spisto has made extraordinary contributions to the Company. Mr. Spisto's resignation resulted from a growing difference in vision from
certain members of the Board of Directors. Recognizing these differences, Mr. Spisto offered his resignation, and it was accepted. At my request, Mr. Spisto has agreed to provide assistance for a period of time. I expressed, on behalf of the Board, our thanks to Lou for his significant
achievements during his tenure: substantial increases in contributed income, a 24 percent increase in earned income, doubling of touring weeks and a three-fold increase in ABT's respected education programs. He leaves ABT with an expanded base of artistic programs and in a strong financial position.
"ABT is a company of world-class dancers and a committed staff. We expect to continue our strong performances and believe that we will continue to grow our loyal donor and subscriber base."
Posted 25 July 2001 - 10:16 PM
Posted 26 July 2001 - 11:04 AM
The Times article mentions that ABT is a "company where staff and dancers liked to describe themselves once as an informal family." What Tolstoy said about families is familiar enough to not have to quote it.
If the next ABT executive director can get along with the family and raise as much money as Spisto did, he will be successful. Given the deepening recession and the sharp collapse of equity prices it will be difficult for anyone to match his fundraising.
Spisto was executive director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra before going to ABT. He worked very well with major donors in the Motor City--the DSO has a decent endowment and can afford to tour regularly. He had an excellent relationship with Nemii Jarvi, the music director, who is not the easiest person in the world with whom to work.
The Times article is typical of its kind--Carvajal seems to go out of her way to find and quote everyone who had a grievance with Spisto while not bothering with the other side. Which is not surpising, since if Carvajal continues to cover ABT, she will need those sources and Spisto will obviously not be a factor.
Posted 29 July 2001 - 08:46 AM
I don't know Spisto personally, and I won't comment on the gossip, but I do know that ABT had to cancell its new Sleeping Beauty because of a lack of funds and some other projects and tours. The company also was reported to have lost more money under his leadership than it did under Kaiser.
I think there are a few differences in doing business or raising funds in Detroit and New York. I'm not bashing Detroit, but I understand that Spisto liked to do the dinner thing a lot, and dinners and treats cost a bit more in New York than they do in Michigan. And a lot more costs go into a ballet company than a symphony orchestra. Ex. Some music does not recquire payment, there are no costumes and scenery to buy and maintain, hair dressers, props, toe shoes, physical threrapists etc, choreographers to pay.
I think maybe he expected the two jobs to be more similar and what would work in one would work in the other. They didn't as the books show.
Posted 29 July 2001 - 03:57 PM
I think these are always political exercises, or can be read that way. It's Truth if you're the Ouster, and Politics if you're Ousted -- and either may be accurate.
I've heard two vastly different versions of this consistently for months. There seems to be no middle ground in this one (as with Gielgud and Babcock in Boston). One version is pretty much as the Times portrayed it -- that Spisto is offensively vulgar, is a big spender, and alienated the staff. Some he fired, but some -- long-time employees -- left because they couldn't work with him. The other version is that he was brought in specifically to clean house, not necessarily to get rid of people, but to make them work more efficiently, and they didn't like this.
Somewhere in the middle of that, I suspect lies the truth. I can't comment on the facts of this -- I don't have insider info But I would say that losing 30 out of 40 employees -- and the press people were not low level -- is not normal turnover, and I was told quite awhile ago that "Sleeping Beauty" had to be canceled because they couldn't raise the money for it -- which doesn't go with the stories that Spisto was a very good fundraiser.
I do think the dining out charges were politics. Usually what happens in these situations is that someone, or a faction, wants to get rid of someone for Reason A, which won't fly (and is never artistic), so they wait until the person makes a Chargeable Error and gets them. But this doesn't mean that the person shouldn't have been "gotten" in the first place.
I found it puzzling in the reviews that Spisto and not McKenzie was, er, credited with "Pied Piper."
[ 07-29-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 30 July 2001 - 09:50 AM
Posted 30 July 2001 - 04:57 PM
Posted 30 July 2001 - 05:29 PM
1) Press. Then -- Prompt, thorough, pleasent and reliable. Press kits the size of phone books. Interviews readily arranged. Now --Not even the nation's largest newspaper doing an advance (an inherently positive kind of story)could get a call back, a usable photo or key interviews in a week.
2) Education. Then -- ABT NYC and Alabama seen as well run programs with serious classes, sensible organization. Now - 5 programs best characterized by many parents so far (Orange County starts Saturday) as a massive ripoff. A rip-off audition tour charging double to trade on the ABT name. Utter chaos in administration. A policy of no returned phone calls or emails. Overbooked classes in all locations. Housing and supervision subcontracted in 4 of 5 locations with one clear disaster on the books --Detroit.
Is this all Spisto's fault. I have no idea. But if 30 in 40 people couldn't/wouldn't/shouldn't have stayed with him, he was certainly responsibly for bringing in quality people to do the jobs.
Posted 30 July 2001 - 09:17 PM
" if 30 in 40 people couldn't/wouldn't/shouldn't have stayed with him, he was certainly responsibly for bringing in quality people to do the jobs."
Seems as if there you have it in a nutshell
(Can you imagine any arts organization in a nutshell? Queer prospect!)
Posted 06 August 2001 - 07:27 AM
Met ticket sales have grown from $8.5 mil in 99 to $9.8 mil in 2001. (No comment about whether higher ticket prices are a part of that growth.)
Contributed income grew from $10.5 mil in 99 to $13.7 mil in 2001.
Expenses for the current fiscal year are on budget, as approved by the Trustees, and a small operating surplus is expected. (These figures are unaudited and it will be interesting to see whether they paint an accurate picture.)
Cash reserves are at the same level now as they were at this point last year.
Production costs will vary from year to year, so any report on those costs is meaningless.
I thought this letter was a good attempt at damage control but would have been better persuaded if it had been signed by Kevin McKenzie as well as by Board members.
Posted 06 August 2001 - 09:54 AM
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