Officials of the Skylight Opera Theatre came to the Journal Sentinel Wednesday, to comment on the company's financial condition and the hotly controversial firing of artistic director Bill Theisen and other last week.
Much more to come on this, notably in a column coming in print on Sunday, but here are some basics from what managing director Eric Dillner (the special object of scorn of bloggers and social networkers), board president Suzanne Hefty and immediate past president Howard Miller had to say:
- No one dreamed, when Dillner was hired a little over a year ago, that he would take on the duties of artistic director. This move was an unanticipated response to unanticipated financial pressure.
- This financial pressures include racking up $460,000 on a bank line of credit with a $700,000 ceiling. Also, the Skylight's building complex, a money-maker for its first 10 years, has become a financial liability as maintenance needs have grown and commercial rents have evaporated.
- Theisen and Dillner had already worked out a $400,000 cut in the production budget for the coming season when more bad economic new further depressed contributed income. Dillner felt he had no place left to cut but where he did.
- The board and Dillner continue to hold Theisen in the highest personal and professional esteem and dearly hope that he will return to direct three main stage and two studio theater productions next season.
- They feel that they did err in executing and announcing the firings the way they did, and and they acknowledge the resulting public relations disaster as damaging to the company.
- They feel they have no choice but to stay the course and hope that the rancor passes, the economy improves and the Skylight returns to the happy place we know and love.
- The company has not hired a PR firm and Dillner has not issued a list of talking points to employees.
I wonder what questions were asked. Clearly, the question asked re: the last comment was a given. No PR firm would handle this this way. Good luck, Eric. It's all yours now. Last time I felt like someone stole something this big from me was Gore v. Bush.