The Playgoer: Boston's Wang Wanker

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Boston's Wang Wanker

Boston Globe's Geoff Edgers has an incisive follow-up to his recent exposé on the crumbling of the Boston Commons outdoor summer Shakespeare programming--namely that the CEO of the corporate-styled host org, the Citi Performing Arts Center (formerly the Wang Center), just engineered for himself a million dollar bonus.

But hey, he deserved it, right?

Spaulding has presided over five straight years of budget deficits, cuts to programming, and a dramatic drop in performances at the Wang and Shubert theaters, which the Citi Center operates.
Um, ok.
The decision to slash the Shakespeare production that ended on Sunday -- the budget was sliced in half, to $481,027, and the free production's run from three weeks to one -- has brought renewed criticism of Spaulding and the Citi Center.
Hm. $481,000 is almost half a million....Half a million cut from performance budget, 1.2 million deposited in CEO's account...

Wait, it gets worse. By which, of course, I mean funnier:
Along with details about Spaulding's compensation, the examination [by the Globe] found that the organization has installed Spaulding's wife as its website manager, and employed companies either owned by or managed by some of the group's trustees.
And sere's some additional interesting context
There are other performing arts center leaders who are paid more than Spaulding. But they preside over centers with operations, in some cases, nearly 20 times larger than that of the Citi Center. According to the most recent records on file, Michael Kaiser of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., earns $1,029,691 a year. The Kennedy Center has a $141 million budget, meaning Kaiser's salary is 0.7 percent of the organization's budget.

The Citi Center's budget for fiscal year 2006 was $6.3 million. That makes Spaulding's salary 6.5 percent of the organization's budget. Spaulding is also paid a higher percentage of his organization's operating budget than leaders of the premiere performing arts centers in Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, New Jersey, and Cleveland.

This seems an important rejoinder to those who preach more corporat-style management practices for arts org's. I mean, these folks are following the corporate playbook to a T! Spaulding is, after all, "The son of a former Republican State Committee chairman."


Art said...

Hey Garret,

Don't miss the coming microscope being focused on CPAC's new intitiatives:

Or Bill Marx's (Yes, he's back and blogging,) comments on how this scandal could be just what arts journalism needs:

Art said...

And Thomas Garvey's column about some ideas about what the Wang's architecture and therefore its possible options for the future:

Anonymous said...

Ths sort of thing is rampant in nonprofit arts. Six figure salaries are MINIMUM for LORT AD's (while ticket prices climb, rank and file staff wages stagnate, and donor perks become feudalistic).

I hope arts journalists sieze on this and seek to expose some of the other areas that need reform across the board. There is no dearth of them.

I also think that instead of turning to corporate and government funding, artists should organize an independent source. If half the people in this country who believe in the NEA gave five dollars a year to such a body, its budget would dwarf that of the NEA itself.