By Ned C. Lautenbach
Chairman, Board of Directors
Non-profit boards have three key responsibilities: ensure the institution’s fiscal viability, set strategic direction and hire a CEO who will lead the organization in that direction.
I and the undersigned board members of Artis—Naples, formerly the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, have 253 collective years of board service spanning 27 years, and we take the responsibilities entrusted to us very seriously.
For over a decade, we faced challenges similar to many arts institutions, including declining audiences resulting in lower revenue from ticket sales and contributions. The 2008 market crash dramatically lowered endowment returns. Combined, this led to annual operating losses of $23 million. In response, the organization began cutting expenses and jobs in 2007. We had not increased musicians’ pay for three years, even though contractually committed to do so; nor did the staff receive raises during that period. But our expense cuts were not sufficient to balance the budget. When orchestras around the country began filing for bankruptcy, we received a clarion call that we had to change!
The board’s primary goal in hiring Kathleen van Bergen in 2011 as CEO was to initiate cultural change and to balance the annual budget. A close second was to fill two critical artistic appointments, a director for The Baker Museum and a music director for the Naples Philharmonic.
This season, we focused on developing a patron-centric culture that would meet the needs of our growing and increasingly diverse community. We analyzed programs, pricing and customer expectations, and made many changes. Initial results are promising. Paid attendance to our classical concerts is at its highest level since 2004, and 22 percent higher than two years ago. Annual fund contributions this year are the highest since 2002. Yet we have only begun to close the gap between operating revenue and expense.
Frank Verpoorten was hired as director and chief curator of The Baker Museum in December, and is already making his mark. Most exciting is our recent announcement of Andrey Boreyko as music director of the Naples Philharmonic. Internationally renowned as a conductor of exceptional ability, his appointment signifies a new era for our wonderful orchestra.
Arts organizations that expect not only to survive but to thrive must adapt to changing landscapes. The face of Collier County has changed dramatically since the Phil was founded: not only has the population doubled since 1989; it is younger and more diverse. Artis—Naples must be a vibrant, relevant resource for our community as it exists today.
We have already demonstrated our responsibility to be good corporate citizens by embracing partnerships with non-profits throughout Collier County. In the past 21 months, our partners have included the Boys & Girls Club, Opera Naples, the Shelter for Abused Women and Children, Gulfshore Playhouse and many more. This is a good first step, but it is not enough.
After months of careful review, it became clear ‘‘the Phil’’ was viewed as relevant largely to one segment of our community, and that others felt excluded or simply not motivated to visit. This led to the adoption of a new brand and a new name that embraces all our programmatic offerings for the entire community. Artis—Naples begins to define our broadened platform for the future.
The board, orchestra and staff have enthusiastically embraced the new direction. We know not all the changes have been immediately popular, but everything we have done, including the adoption of Artis—Naples, has had great thought and deliberate purpose. Many support this direction.
Myra Daniels grew this organization from a home for the orchestra to a multi-disciplinary arts center, and in the process made Naples a much bigger place than it would have been otherwise. We owe Myra a great debt of gratitude for enriching all our lives.
Whether you call us ‘‘the Phil,’’ Artis—Naples or some combination of both, please know we are firmly committed to ensuring this wonderful organization is here for future generations to enjoy.
Thank you for caring so deeply about us. If you care to comment, please write to email@example.com.
C. Michael Armstrong
Jay H. Baker
James R. Campbell
James C. Curvey
Michael E. Dougherty
David R. Drobis
Robert T. Edwards
Linda C. Flewelling
Eugene U. Frey
A. Scott Hansen
Lois Wertheimer Lipnik
James P. McCready
J. Leo Montgomery
Lawrence R. Pugh
Kimberly K. Querrey
John J. Remondi
Sarah B. Rorer
Donald E. Ryks
William J. Schoen
Stephen L. Schwartz
Bruce S. Sherman
Adria D. Starkey
Shelly A. Stayer
William S. Stavropoulos
George W. Sypert
Kathleen van Bergen, ex officio