Friday, May 25, 2012

Gelb's Future at the Met

I've seen the odd suggestion here and there on the Internet that the Met Board should fire Peter Gelb, on the grounds that the Met Futures, WQXR, and ON episodes demonstrate that his judgment is fundamentally lacking and therefore he is not fit to run the Met.

Indeed, he has some judgment problems: I have to believe that, had he consulted them, his entire PR department would have tried to restrain him. Bad publicity is bad publicity, after all. If he didn't consult the PR department, he showed poor judgment; if he talked with them and didn't follow their recommendations, he showed poor judgment.

But what's the Met Board to do? People who can manage $350 million-a-year arts organizations aren't exactly thick on the ground. They can't toss Gelb and bring in a replacement next week or even next year. It is probable that everyone who has the skills also has a job and a multi-year contract that can't be broken with less than a year's notice.

And just how much of a leadership vacuum do you want at the Met? James Levine is nowhere to be seen and we have no idea whether Gelb is leading a quiet search or waiting to see whether Levine will stay or go.


Brian said...

You know there is something else here I've wanted to comment on that was a side line to the exchange Alex Ross and I had on Twitter the other day that I've not wanted to blog about.

While Board members may not have liked the bad publicity from Gelb's actions on these three particular episodes, I'm not at all sure they would have any objection to the actions in and of themselves had they not been written about in such public ways.

I mean if you and your rich cohorts have just sunk millions into the current Ring ans WQXR and ON, organizations that you have ongoing financial relationships with are bad mouthing them, you aren't happy about it whether you yourself like the final product or not.

Again from my own personal board member experiences, in public you stand by your man and don't question him in public. Nor do you overtly support or give harbor to those who are regardless of what actually goes on in the board room.

As for Brad Wilbur, I doubt anyone on the board was for that enterprise. Certainly it was making negotiations more difficult for the house with artists who had ready access to something they could interpret as the final word whether or not it was. Disclaimers aside, you and I both know that vocal artists are not always the most logical or ego free people in the world.

Sure it looks bad when all this comes out. But I suspect that plenty of folks on the Met board view Gelb's sin as getting caught so easily, not on taking the actions in the first place.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Excellent points, and I'll have to check out your exchange with Alex!