obt: now what?

Dance United was an unqualified success, and if what I’m hearing through the grapevine is true, then the $750,000 bridge goal has been met and perhaps exceeded by some modest amount has nearly been met [as of June 15th OBT reports $710,000 raised so far].  So, good – we have OBT for one more season, at least.  But without its live orchestra.  Now there are some tough questions that must be asked, and honest answers must be given.  Here’s my short list:

  1. I’ve been hearing that finances were not in order for the previous several seasons, and there have been two different development directors in as many years.  Why haven’t they been successful in meeting the funding needs of the organization?
  2. The 2009-2010 season looks to be on track – but that’s without the $300,000 expense of the OBT orchestra, which is beloved by the dancers and audience alike.  How does OBT plan on regaining its footing without permanently losing a live orchestra in the pit?
  3. What sort of long-range planning, if any, has OBT been working on shaping over the last five years?  I ask this because once an arts organization gets into the desperate begging mode at the end of each season, the end is in sight.
  4. What role has the board played in overseeing their fiduciary responsibilities to date?  Is it a matter of fundraising fatigue, or lack of interest on their part?

There are many more questions that could be asked, and that should be asked.  First and foremost, however, OBT must ensure that it does not arrive at the same place next May as it did this May.  Foundations will look the other way, supporters will not answer phone calls, and the public opinion will quickly sour.  That will be a fatal day for OBT.  Let’s make sure that it does not happen by asking tough questions and bringing some transparency and accountability to the governance process.

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