Late last week, Andrew Marton and Pete Alfano of the Fort Worth Star Telegram wrote a story after Texas Ballet Theater artistic director Ben Stevenson and two of his dancers met with the newspaper’s editorial board. The surprise announcement that both Stevenson and chairwoman Robin Arena would agree to step down, if that would help the ballet survive, may have distracted some from the meat of the story: The TBT’s financial problems were caused by more than the lack of a on-staff fundraiser.
“I don’t want to put other people down, because the finger could be pointed at me, too, but there are some huge staff weaknesses [when it comes to] not putting budgets together or not approving them correctly,” Arena said.
“Ultimately, [the budget] would be the managing director’s job, but we didn’t believe he had the skill set in that job.” …
In a telephone interview, [managing director John] Toohey responded to the criticism, saying: “Robin was a participant and attended every finance committee meeting since I became managing director, so was Ben Stevenson. She had full and complete reports during that entire period.”
Arts management blogger Andrew Taylor (an arts consultant and director of an MBA program in arts administration) writes that “Texas Ballet Theater, along with many other arts nonprofits, is quickly discovering the difference between a balance sheet and a cash flow statement.” He cites Arena’s statement that up until last year, “we had a balanced budget…. But having a balanced budget on paper is not the same as being financially stable.”