But the purpose of a board is to support the purpose of the company, not to put blocks in front of it.
Ana-Marie Codina Barlick, the ballet chairwoman who has led the recent changes, says she and others were forced to take drastic measures to keep the company afloat.
This is not about Edward personally, Codina said. Its about how the company has been managed and the fact that the company goes from financial crisis to financial crisis. ... As a donor you get very frustrated when youre being asked to make emergency donations and you feel like your business advice is not being listened to.
Since Villellas departure was announced, financial and other crises have continued to shake the ballet as it prepares to enter its last season with him at the helm.
Last fall the board touted new executive director Nicholas Goldsborough, a former fundraiser for Harvard University and Carnegie Hall, as a solution to their money woes. But in June, he was fired in a surprise decision that stunned the troupes dancers and staff.
At the same time, staff at the company and the Miami City Ballet School were told they would have to take pay cuts and furloughs with money now coming from its endowment, school tuition and orchestra grants to fill the budget gaps, according to two key staff members who requested anonymity.
The company is $2 million in debt, and projections for individual donations fell from $4 million in June of last year to $2.3 million this spring.
Hoping to stop the bleeding, board members agreed this month to bring in Michael Kaiser, the president of the Kennedy Center in Washington, to consult on management and fundraising, for a fee of between $125,000 and $150,000.
The new artistic director, former New York City Ballet dancer Lourdes Lopez, takes over as soon as Villella leaves next spring. She has been meeting with potential funders in Miami for several months.
From the time Villella arrived in Miami after his career as a dancer was derailed by crippling hip injuries he was constantly tested by the tension between his own artistic ambition and board members eager to have a great company but not always prepared for the cost, said people close to the troupe.
The new director was faced with a community that lacked the kind of deep generational support found in established northern cities.
The company started in 1986 with 17 dancers and a budget of just $1 million. Less than a decade later, it was being invited to world-class venues such as the Kennedy Center and Scotlands Edinburgh Festival.
By 2000, MCB had more than doubled in size and moved from a meager storefront to its state-of-the-art home near the Bass Museum.
But the growth came at a cost. Year after year, individual donors were forced to bail out what had become one of the top troupes in the country. While some board members were inspired, many were frustrated at the costs.
Prestige productions like the world premiere of Twyla Tharps Nightspot in 2008, and Romeo and Juliet during the companys 25th season, were pricey at times topping $1 million.
He was always reaching for something the board was never ready for, says a former longtime staffer. You feel like youre part of something extraordinary, and then youre crashed into this financial reality all the time.