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Edward Villella Leaving Miami City Ballet


Ballet Fanatique

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Here is the latest update to this sad story. My heart goes out to the dancers who are caught in the middle. What a huge loss for Miami. I wish for happiness and sucess for Mr. Villella in New York. He has always managed to survive some pretty harrowing situations.

 

http://www.miamihera...the-firing.html

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This breaks my heart. So sad.

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I certainly hope the company and the school can recoup the $1.5 million dollar deficit stated in the article! That is the scariest part of all of this, and the issue concerning the the students at the school, and the dancers in the company at this time.

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Every business, including every ballet business, has to live within a budget and must face financial realities. Failure to do so is suicide. Personally, I pity the Board members, who, it appears, have been trying to both indulge Mr. Villella's vision and fullfill their own responsiblities as Board members to ensure the financial viability of the organization -- it sounds like it has been a thankless task.

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Mr. Vilella took Miami City from nothing to brilliant. His vision and artistry may have been too big for Miami's pocketbook, but can you really blame him for that?

 

I don't really understand the inner-workings of a ballet company, but Mr. Vilella is the Artistic Director. Miami City is not struggling artistically... far from it. There are other people at Miami City with much more "financial" sounding titles. It seems to me that if the company is having financial struggles it should be those people who get the axe, not Mr. Vilella.

 

My view is probably over-simplified & naive, but that is how I see it.

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Mr. Vilella is a legend and his vision certainly made the MCB the well-respected company that it is. That said, artistic directors are not often great business people and they do rely on a vigilant board whose responsibility is to make certain the company can stay afloat. Ballet companies are mostly NFP entities who rely heavily on grants and donations as well as profit from ticket sales. I have served on numerous boards: one of them was for a ballet company. As a board member, I would feel that the board as a whole had failed if the deficit had climbed to where it's being reported. My experience was that in general, a ballet board's principal responsibility is to raise funds for the company to survive. The AD's primary responsibility is to produce performances that are artistically interesting to the general public and satisfying for the company members within the confines of a budget that has been approved by the board. There is a lot that is not being stated due to legal constraints and proper discretion so it's impossible to know exactly how the deficit grew to be as large as it is and to whom most of the blame belongs. I think it is a shame that the situation grew to this point and that there is so much acrimony. It's not fair to such a revered artist nor the company who is operating as such a high level. If there is a lesson in this, it would be that AD's do need training and education in business. Without an understanding of business principals, any company will struggle- particularly those who constantly operate with narrow margins and those who are particularly vulnerable to general economic downturns.

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I agree with Swanchat. Mr Vilella had a beautiful vision for MCB. However, in order to turn that vision into a legacy, you need create a sustainable organization. Large donors get understandably frustrated when asked to repeatedly give to an organization that lurches from financial crisis to financial crisis. Hopefully, Michael Kaiser, who is known as a turnaround expert for foundering dance companies (including ABT and Alvin Ailey), will be able to help right the ship. It is sad to see Mr Vilella, who gave so much, go out on this note however.

 

By the way, I highly recommend Michael Kaiser's book, "The Art of the Turn Around," if you are interested in the financial aspects of running a healthy dance organization. It's very readable.

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There is plenty of blame to go around. While the board may have approved the budgets and has the ultimate responsibility, Mr. Villella had, in my mind, an ethical responsibility (or at a minimum, a common-sense responsibility) to spend within limits. Just because you can spend it, doesn't mean you should.

 

Last year I purchased a home. I'm a single parent with a single income. I applied for the mortgage approval without requesting a specific dollar amount. I was shocked when I received the approval for an ABSOLULTELY IRRESPONSIBLE amount of financing! Although I knew in advance approximately what I wanted to spend, I couldn't help but think "WOW! Imagine what you could buy with that much money!"

 

Of course this raises politcal and economic issues outside the scope of this board, but you can see how easily it can happen. Villella had a great vision; the board allowed spending in excess of available funds, and not by a little - by a couple million dollars.

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Thank you for sharing the link to this interesting article, TutuMaker.

What a sad, sad situation for everyone involved.

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If only the ‘change of the guard’ at MCB could have happened in a dignified way! Villella could have happily retired, or stayed on as the AD Emeritus, and a new, younger AD could have continued his work and his vision. In the big scheme of things 1.5 Million Dollars is a very small sum – compare this to the 7 plus Billion Dollar trading loss at Chase! I find it worrisome that Villella, his artistic vision and 25 years of the company’s and the school’s growing national and international reputation were sacrificed over this. I hope that MCB will get up on its feet again, but a lot of goodwill was lost in a very needless way here. I wish Mr. and Mrs. Villella good luck in New York and hope that they can continue to inspire new generations of dancers.

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I find it deeply troubling that it was the Board of Governors, not the full Board of Directors, that made the decision to let Villella go. This is a matter that should have involved the entire board - too many members were caught by surprise.

 

Donations are way down. Some former major donors have closed their pocketbooks since the announcement that Villella would be leaving. A charismatic leader who delivers an exciting product is what opens pocketbooks. MCB had this; it was the board's job to oversee the funds spent by their AD. They didn't do their job.

 

I wish Lourdes Lopez well, but I don't know that she has the charisma or energy to pull off what Villella did; he WAS the company's battery. I hope she proves me wrong.

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Having grown up in Miami as a child, I remember when Miami had its own symphony orchestra which later evolved into a South Florida regional symphony. But alas, no more as it folded due to financial problems. I wonder if this is part of an overall issue with South Florida's support of the arts, and an understanding by everyone involved of what it takes to support sustainable arts organizations in that area? Interesting that Miami in the past couple of years still managed to open two very big (and expensive) professional sports venues for basketball and baseball.

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http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/index.php?/topic/34457-villella-to-step-down-from-mcb/

check this thread out on the sister board, Ballet Alert! They've been keeping careful track of this important story.

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