A collective, "huh?"

The e-mail I received came from friends (literally, that's what it said)

This was the body of the e-mail:

For immediate release.


Skylight Opera Theatre Board of Directors

This was the content:

From the Board of Directors of the Skylight Opera Theatre

The Board of Directors greatly appreciates the recent public and donor messages of concern and support for The Skylight’s artistic product. We have read, heard, and discussed them all, and thank everyone who has expressed support for The Skylight.

At a full meeting of the Board of Directors last night, it was resolved to establish communications with Bill Theisen regarding the role of Artistic Director at The Skylight. The Board sincerely hopes Bill will agree to return to The Skylight as its Artistic Director for the company’s 50th Anniversary Season. We continue to respect Bill’s artistic ability and his value to The Skylight and to the Milwaukee arts community.

The Board remains committed to strengthening The Skylight’s financial position so that it can continue to serve as a creative force in the Milwaukee community -- and as an employer able to showcase a variety of artists for years to come. Our old organizational structure is not fiscally sustainable in these economic times. The Board’s strategic plan emphasizes establishing an overall structure including artistic adminstration that will work for The Skylight now and can be adapted when finances improve.

The Board would like to accept and embrace the many offers it has received for benefit performances, assistance in fundraising, and donations. Anyone interested in helping The Skylight can e-mail the board at friendsofskylight@skylightopera.com.

The board continues to support Eric Dillner and the entire staff of The Skylight who have filled in and carried on during this time. They deserve the respect and appreciation of all.
Now many people might have a problem with this letter, but I'm still just trying to figure it out.

I'll go as far as giving a tip of the hat to The Skylight Board for edging towards reversing what many of us see as a short sighted decision to fire the Artistic Director in the first place. But it's a tip with some hesitation.

I don't really need to spell out how ludicrous it is to imagine that Bill Theisen would gladly skip into work on Monday morning as the newly restored Artistic Director, knock on Eric Dillner's office door and happily chime, "What are you doing for lunch today Managing Director old pal 'o mine?" Right? We all see that, right?

Here's the thing that I take issue with as an arts administrator myself. This response and any other response about any of this situation lacks Eric Dillner's fingerprints, the man that the Board of Directors has expressed full confidence in as the leader of the institution.

I was just talking about this letter with a friend and colleague who was scratching her head not quite sure what to make of it, when I found myself thinking about a parent fighting battles for their children. If I were to go on the schoolyard playground and fight all my children's battles, you better believe that the moment I left my kids on that schoolyard playground alone, they would get their asses kicked. And for good reason.

I will acknowledge that it is good that the Skylight Board has given some response, stupefying as it may be. But where is Eric Dillner in all of this? If we are to believe that the Board of The Skylight is open to accepting offers of help from those eager to contribute their time, talent and resources towards helping fix the financial ship that is off course for the company, doesn't it seem the supported leader who is supposed to be organizing the future of the company might want to come forward?

Sorry, but I can't get behind this all...yet. (I really, really hope that yet is going to fade away.)

We've not yet heard specifics on when some much touted community forums are going to happen where we can all ask direct, hard questions of the people we are supposed to (and believe me when I say, the people we WANT to at some point) get behind and support as the community comes together to guide The Skylight into a more celebratory place. The Board of The Skylight is trying to do some parenting, I'll give them that. They are simply setting their child up to be left alone on the playground yard for some pretty serious ass kicking.