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Alone At The Top

February 12, 2010

loretta.jpegAt what point in an arts organization's growth does it need to have more than one person at the top? I ask this question in light of the departure of the Magic Theatre's Managing Director, Scott Hawkins. According to an article in The San Francisco Chronicle, Hawkins decided to eliminate his own position:

"Reached by phone, Hawkins said that in his efforts to help restructure the company to cope with its financially straitened circumstances, "after analyzing the budget in December I decided we could no longer afford a managing director's salary. The standard two-headed model at American theaters no longer fit here, and I didn't see the opportunity to rebuild the budget to the point where we could justify that position."...Having a "single person in charge of both the business and artistic sides is not an uncommon structure for organizations of a certain size," Hawkins adds. "The Magic is now that size.""

I wonder how the venerable producer of new plays will cope with only one person to run it? The stress on the Magic's artistic director, Loretta Greco (pictured), must be enormous, even if the company has scaled back operations dramatically over the last couple of years by taking such measures as shuttering one of its two spaces.

I also wonder whether under one leader and a reduced budget, the Magic can even be considered as a "mid-size company" anymore. What does Hawkins mean by "of a certain size"? He uses the same terminology that people use to hide the age of a person in decline. I really hope that his words don't spell the end of one of the very few remaining mid-size theaters in the area.

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