Bill Lively raised the millions of dollars needed to build the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Then he became president of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee. The Super Bowl’s still three weeks away, but KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports Lively has already lined up his next job: president of the Dallas Symphony.
- Dallas Morning News report
- Earlier press release announcement
- KERA radio report:
- Expanded online story:
Bill Lively says he was approached unexpectedly a few months ago by a symphony board member. The DSO was searching for a new head because Douglas Adams resigned suddenly in August after only two years in the post.
Lively: “I was invited to come and meet with the chair of the symphony’s board back in either late October or early November. I didn’t know why I was doing this, but I was glad to do it. And they explained where the symphony was and what the opportunities were and would I be a candidate to be the president and CEO. And that was just out of left field, I didn’t expect that. I was honored to be invited. We thought about what it could be and after several weeks, it was a great idea, we hoped, for everybody.”
Lively has had an extensive career in music. His dream was to be a marching band director – which he was for Southern Methodist University and later, the Dallas Cowboys.
Lively: “Then I fell from grace and went into administration and I was out of music until really – now. So this is a real thrill for me but an unexpected opportunity.”
Lively’s appointment is a major coup for the DSO because of his fame as a fundraiser — and because the DSO has run up a $4 million deficit. The symphony has said it must raise $150 million in the next five years. Lively led the unprecedented campaign to raise $338 million for the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
[sounds of press conference under] In recent years, the symphony as become the city’s premiere arts organization — not simply for its financial size but because of the media attention generated by conductor Jaap van Zweden and the heavy investment from business and social circles in its success. It seems to be the closest thing Dallas culture currently has for a shot at ‘international major player’ bragging rights in the fine arts.
Which helps explain why — as if to allay any fears for the orchestra’s financial future — today’s announcement at the Meyerson Symphony Center featured repeated praise for Lively’s money skills – from Mayor Tom Leppert, former Cowboy quarterback Roger Staubach and conductor van Zweden, who spoke via a video from his home in the Netherlands.
[sound up from van Zweden]: “Bill is a musician himself and is also a proven leader with an extraordinary gift for fundraising.”
Lively says there are actually four elements needed to make the DSO a top-tier orchestra. A great hall, a great conductor, great musicians –
Lively: “And then you have to have a company that can command the attention of audiences by promoting and marketing the symphony, generate revenue and support the orchestra’s mission. And that’s my purpose when I come on board here in the spring – to work on that 4th element.”