Ten weeks ago, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s board of directors decided to try something new.
Hoping to raise more money for the nonprofit organization, the board decided to restructure it to be more “businesslike.” Members appointed seasoned attorney and investment banker William Fleming to be chairman of the board and chief executive officer. The experiment, however, didn’t take off the way board members had hoped.
On Tuesday, Fleming resigned.
“The board decided to do (a new structure) and in retrospect it was probably a mistake,” Fleming said in an interview with the Sun. “I do wish the symphony all of the best in their endeavors.”
Fleming declined to elaborate on the details of his departure, but CSO treasurer Ken Barber said Fleming’s decision to resign was mutually agreed upon after it became obvious that restructuring wasn’t yielding results.
“On the operational side we felt we needed a boost,” Barber said. “We changed the organization structure to be more businesslike. We have been assessing that situation since we implemented it and we have decided that we were not getting the boost that we expected, (so) Bill decided to resign.
“We expected that we would increase fundraising results substantially in the short term as a result of that change,” but that didn’t happen, Barber said.
For now, the board has no idea who will replace Fleming, although it’s likely whoever fills the role won’t have CEO next to his name.
“The title isn’t critically important, (but) I think the CEO title is going to go away,” Barber said, adding the board will meet in the next few days to decide who is going to take over in the interim.
In the last year, the orchestra has gone through a transitional period, including the addition of CSO executive director Regina Buckley, who oversees the symphony’s operations and “has the full confidence and support of the board of directors,” Barber said.
CSO is also looking for a symphony conductor to fill the vacancy that will be created by Maestro T. Francis Wada when he retires at the end of the season.
“On the artistic side, we couldn’t be more pleased. The concert Saturday night (Jan. 12) was exceptional,” Barber said. “I always make a point of talking to the people around me, and the people around me were ecstatic. I could not be happier with what’s going on there.”
On the operational side, however, more work needs to be done, Barber said.
And as far as fundraising goes, Barber said, board members want to see a “knee in the curve.”
“It’s a phrase financial people use,” Barber explained. “If you were looking at a chart and you had a flat line coming across the chart, then suddenly it ramps upwards, that’s a knee in the curve.”
While he admits fundraising is challenging for any organization, Barber said it still is a priority.
“We want to see that boost,” he said.