October 9th, 2009 | by KELLY CLARKE News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Oregon Ballet Theatre: Executive Director Jon Ulsh is out.

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Oregon Ballet Theatre announced this afternoon that the company's executive director Jon Ulsh is stepping down. The news comes only weeks after WW broke the news that OBT staffers had sent a missive to the company's board of directors calling for Ulsh's ouster. WW also recently reported on financial records that showed that the company's massive cash shortage earlier this year was due to years of poor fundraising and budget mismanagement even though the company blamed it on a dud economy and last December's freak snowstorm. The bottom line? Artistic Director Christopher Stowell will be taking a more hands-on approach to the financial side of the company.

Here's the main thrust of the press release (scroll down for the full release):
Chief Operating Officer, Doug Wells, will oversee administrative functions and manage OBT's budget. Wells will report to both Stowell and the Board's Executive Committee. The Board of Trustees will take a more direct role in the company's fundraising efforts, with Director of Marketing Erik Jones managing day-to-day development department operations, reporting to Christopher Stowell.

It'll be interesting to see how the ballet functions with Stowell in control of both the artistic and administrative halves of the company. In less tumultuous news, the ballet company opens its 20th season with a retrospective blowout of works plus video footage from the past two decades this Saturday night. The bill includes bits from Bebe Miller and Trey McIntyre to newer works from Julia Adam, Yuri Possokhov and Stowell, among others. Regardless of the company's internal issues, OBT's roster of dancers is stronger than its been anytime in the last decade. You should make time to see them own the stage. See WW's Dance Events for more info.

Full Oregon Ballet Theatre press release:
Today, Oregon Ballet Theatre's Board of Directors announced the creation of a
new organizational structure for the company as it enters its 20th-anniversary season. Changes include a reconfigured management team that will be led by Artistic Director Christopher Stowell. Current Executive Director Jon Ulsh, who successfully guided the company for the past three and a half years, is stepping down but will remain available to OBT to help assure a smooth transition. The company's Chief Operating Officer, Doug Wells, will oversee administrative functions and manage OBT's budget. Wells will report to both Stowell and the Board's Executive Committee. The Board of Trustees will take a more direct role in the company's
fundraising efforts, with Director of Marketing Erik Jones managing day-to-day development department operations, reporting to Christopher Stowell.

“The Board of Trustees wants to thank Jon Ulsh for his tremendous contribution and dedication to OBT over the last three years,” said Chair Kathleen Curtis Cosgrove. “We are very appreciative of his role in institutionalizing some of the best management practices we will continue to rely on going forward.”

In June, when Oregon Ballet Theatre announced that a negative cash flow threatened to put the company out of business, Portlanders along with the larger North American dance community rallied to save the organization. This overwhelming show of support confirmed the need to finish the internal evaluation and restructuring of OBT's business operations. Since that time, the trustees, management, staff and artists of the company have worked together to implement a 28% reduction to OBT's budget and have put in place conservative financial forecasting models that will guide future planning. Oregon Ballet Theatre is committed to delivering innovative and
exciting new programming within realistic financial parameters.

Christopher Stowell, speaking of his expanded responsibilities within the company said, “I'm looking forward to this new role and will work diligently to further the artistic vision of Oregon Ballet Theatre while implementing the financial controls that will assure the viability of OBT for generations to come.”

Photo of past OBT dancers performing Bebe Miller's A Certain Depth of Heart, Also Love, which will also be performed this Saturday, by Basil Childers Blaine Truitt Covert—courtesy of OBT.
 
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