Heck of a job, Joey
Despite five straight years of losses, program cutbacks -- including a drastic shortening of the popular Shakespeare in the Common program -- the board of directors sought fit to grant president and CEO Josiah Spaulding Jr. a $1.265 million "retention" bonus while praising his selflessness in taking a 25 percent pay cut -- down to a mere $409,000 and $23,135 in benefits.
"Was it justified or not? Boy, I'll tell you it was," said [board chairman John William Poduska Sr. of the bonus. ] "Joe was being courted by everyone under the sun. . . . He stayed and did a heck of a job."And this heck of a job included hiring his wife as web site manager (salary undisclosed) and a PR firm run by a trustee who declined to answer e-mailed questions ($43,109 annually). Nor did the organization reveal whether anyone else was included in the retention bonus program.
A 25 percent pay cut may seem impressive on the surface, but it gets easier when you know there's a big bonus just down the road.
But why are you looking to "retain" someone who has presided over five straight years of budget deficits, programming cuts and drops in performances?
Spaulding may very well have performed yeoman's service in turning the moribund Music Hall into a viable venue. But in recent years he has favored touring road companies to pay (some of) the bills -- opting for the Rockettes over the Nutcracker for example.
Bonuses, particularly in the not-for-profit world, should be rewarded on performance. Retention bonuses for productive CEOs are appropriate too.
But not for someone whose salary and benefits are slightly less than the revised costs for a popular production that was slashed from three weeks to one.
Arts organizations are in a constant battle for cash (and survival). State and federal support is an iffy thing because, for all the value of the arts in quality of life and education, there are bigger priorities. Like public safety, housing and health care.
They depend on the loyalty and generosity of people like you and me -- either to attend their performances or maybe, hopefully, write a check.
Don't hold your breath waiting for one from me folks.