Performing Arts Center in Crisis Amid Opening?

ramsberger dyer jacobs dpcIt appears there is trouble behind the curtain at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The latest drama signals possible leadership problems in addition to the financial struggles.

Just before the holidays, news broke about concerns stemming from resignations of five vice presidents in the last 13 months, with two leaving in December. WFTV reported that even though “four of the five VP’s relocated to Orlando from other cities to work in Orlando, the five of them left their high-paying salaries without having another job lined up.”

Not necessarily a ringing endorsement of President Katherine Ramsberger and the Dr. Phillips Center leadership.

According to the Dr. Phillips Center’s 2013 Form 990, in the tax year ending June 30, 2013 CEO and President Katherine Ramsberger received $336,465 in compensation, including a $20,000 bonus and incentive pay. The others listed on the financial documents include Cecilia Kelly, Vice President of Finance, who received $162,943 and Richard Russell, Vice President of Philanthropy, who received $224,814 in compensation.

The Form 990 also states Ramsberger received $91,163 in non-qualified deferred compensation “booked and taxable in 2012, to be distributed to employee per contract terms.”

Meanwhile, the woes continued. Earlier in December, Channel 9 Investigates uncovered 80% of minority subcontractors who helped build the $500+ million arts center were still waiting to get paid. The new Dr. Phillips Center site is still marred by the semi-demolished Round Building, which remains standing after its demolition deadline. “You weren’t under attack were you? It looks like a bombed out building,” visitors Lynne Geary and Lanny Gear told Channel 9’s Lori Brown.

The arts center had previously missed several fundraising deadlines, resulting in numerous additional hand-outs from the County and City tourist tax dollars. Already, Stage 2 is in deep trouble. The most recent handout came when the Orlando City Council authorized an additional $751,067.99 in construction funds due to “the extension of the estimated completion date of Stage 1 of the DPC.” However, the terms state clearly: “The increased funding will result in less project construction funds available for Stage 2 of the Arts Center.”

All of this is on top of the other crucial funding demands. The Arts Center is also busy raising funds to build their endowment as well as to fund art education and engagement activities. In addition to the capital campaign (construction), the Dr. Phillips Center committed to raising $25 million within 5 years of opening for its endowment to ensure the long-term stability and success of the performing arts center. Currently, only $2.2 million has been raised in the endowment. The DPC also needs to raise funds for art education programming either through grants, private donations or through sponsorships.

There is no shortage in the demand for leadership at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts with the mission at hand. The drama is better left for the stage.

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