New York City Opera Failure: It's the Board's Fault

The Nonprofiteer has been waiting for somebody to say this: that the New York City Opera failure is, first and foremost, a failure of its Board of Directors.   Hiring a new General Manager at the eleventh hour and expecting him to somehow pull a multi-million dollar rabbit out of his hat [or ass] ranks right at the top of anyone's list of Stupid Board Tricks.

We should have known the Board was not on the job as soon as the opera announced its decision to save money by moving out of Lincoln Center.  When an agency cuts an essential component of its services--in this case, a popular, well-established and centrally-located performance space--to save money, that means the Board is not living up to its task of raising money for those selfsame essential services.  But one could at least hope the Board would wake up before the entire organization followed the permanent home into oblivion.

Who says there's no rest for the wicked?  The Board of the New York City Opera apparently spent most of its time resting, though a group which allows on its watch the dissolution of a 70-year-old civic jewel is wicked indeed.

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    Nonprofiteer

    The Nonprofiteer is Kelly Kleiman, principal of NFP Consulting, which provides Board development, strategic planning and fund-raising services to charities and philanthropies. Through her consulting practice and in her guise as The Nonprofiteer, Kelly has spent the past 25-plus years helping small and mid-sized nonprofits organize themselves better and raise more money. These days she focuses especially on helping them use high-skill volunteers. Kelly is also a lawyer and freelance journalist whose reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and other dailies; in magazines including In These Times and Chicago Philanthropy; in the alternative press; on websites including the Huffington Post; and on the radio, including the BBC and WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. She and her fellow "Dueling Critic" Jonathan Abarbanel present a weekly podcast of their reviews of Chicago theater at DuelingCritics.net. Earlier in her career she was dean of admissions of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and Executive Director of the Chicago Children’s Choir, and practiced real estate and zoning law with the firm of Rudnick & Wolfe. Kelly holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago. She was a founding Board member of the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits and also served for 5 years on the Board of the Association for Women Journalists–Chicago. She can be reached ("Dear Nonprofiteer . . .") at KellyNFP@yahoo.com.

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