Monday, September 24, 2012

Orchestra picks team to search for new leader

The Charlotte Symphony has picked the 14-member hunting party that will look for its next executive director.

The group is dominated by members of the Charlotte Symphony  operation: present and past board members, plus one player. It also includes representatives of some of the orchestra's main financial backers.

For the first time in recent years, at least, the president of the Arts & Science Council will take part in a symphony committee. Scott Provancher not only leads the ASC, one of the main supporters of the arts in Charlotte, but he also has experience in orchestra management, search committee chair Richard Osborne said. Provancher was the executive director of the Louisville Orchestra in Kentucky before he moved to the arts-fund arena. 

Wells Fargo and the Leon Levine Foundation, both of which have emerged as donors to the orchestra in recent years, are also represented. The search committee: 

Catherine Connor, board member. 
Brian Cromwell, board member. 
Jay Everette, Wells Fargo executive.
Bernie Hargadon, board member. 
Jane McColl, former board member. 
Richard Osborne, board member and search committee chair. 
Larry Polsky, a program director for the Leon Levine Foundation. 
Frank Portone, the orchestra's principal French horn. 
Scott Provancher, ASC. 
Laurie Readhead, board member. 
Pat Rodgers, former board chair. 
Emily Smith, chair of the orchestra's board. 
Bob Stickler, board member and interim executive director. 
Christopher Warren-Green, the orchestra's music director. 

They'll be looking for someone to help drive the orchestra's years-long effort to gets its finances onto a stable foundation. The new leader will succeed Jonathan Martin, who left in August to become chief executive of the Dallas Symphony. Martin came to Charlotte in May 2008 -- just before the recession made the already challenging job even tougher.  

The committee will meet for the first time Tuesday, Sept. 24. Its first task will be to spell out the qualities it wants in a new leader, Osborne said. It's likely to enlist an executive-search firm to help go from there. 

Having committee members from outside the orchestra's immediate circles -- such as the ASC, Wells and Levine Foundation -- helps widen its perspective, Osborne said. That  "increases the likelihood that you're going to hire someone who will be a success." 

Wells Fargo executive Everette has become prominent in Charlotte's arts scene as the bank has stepped up its support of cultural groups, including the orchestra, Opera Carolina and Mint Museum. Everette chairs the Mint's board of trustees. The Levine Foundation's Polsky is a former board chair of Discovery Place. 

The search committee will "try hard," Osborne said, to have the new chief in place by the start of the 2013-14 season -- which would be roughly the same amount of time it took to find Martin. But "we can't create candidates out of thin air," Osborne added. "We're at the mercy of the pool of candidates who are attractive and available."