They Told Me Not to Take that Job: Tumult, Betrayal, Heroics, and the Transformation of Lincoln Center

They Told Me Not to Take that Job: Tumult, Betrayal, Heroics, and the Transformation of Lincoln Center

by Reynold Levy


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They Told Me Not to Take that Job: Tumult, Betrayal, Heroics, and the Transformation of Lincoln Center by Reynold Levy

When Reynold Levy became the new president of Lincoln Center in 2002, New York Magazine described the situation he walked in to as “a community in deep distress, riven by conflict.” Ideas for the redevelopment of Lincoln Center's artistic facilities and public spaces required spending more than 1.2 billion, but there was no clear pathway for how to raise that kind of unprecedented sum. The individual resident organizations that were the key constituents of Lincoln Center—the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Juilliard School, and eight others—could not agree on a common capital plan or fundraising course of action. Instead, intramural rivalries and disputes filled the vacuum.

Besides, some of those organizations had daunting problems of their own. Levy tells the inside story of the demise of the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera's need to use as collateral its iconic Chagall tapestries in the face of mounting operating losses, and the New York Philharmonic's dalliance with Carnegie Hall.

Yet despite these and other challenges, Levy and the extraordinary civic leaders at his side were able to shape a consensus for the physical modernization of the sixteen-acre campus and raise the money necessary to maintain Lincoln Center as the country's most vibrant performing arts destination. By the time he left, Lincoln Center had prepared itself fully for the next generation of artists and audiences.

They Told Me Not to Take That Job is more than a memoir of life at the heart of one of the world's most prominent cultural institutions. It is also a case study of leadership and management in action. How Levy and his colleagues triumphantly steered Lincoln Center—through perhaps the most tumultuous decade of its history to a startling transformation—is fully captured in his riveting account.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610393614
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 05/12/2015
Pages: 376
Sales rank: 676,074
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Reynold Levy was the president of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts from March 1, 2002 to January 31, 2014. He has held leadership roles at the International Rescue Committee, at AT&T, and at the 92nd Street Y. He has taught at the Harvard Business School. Currently, he is an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, a special advisor to the private equity firm General Atlantic, and a consultant to nonprofit institutions and foundations. He lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Prologue xv

Map of the Lincoln Center Campus xviii

Chapter 1 A Kid from Brooklyn Becomes a President (Again) 1

Chapter 2 Welcome to Lincoln Center 31

Chapter 3 Curtain Up 49

Chapter 4 Transformation 65

Chapter 5 Rejuvenation 93

Chapter 6 A Refugee Returns Home 119

Chapter 7 A Death Foretold and a Turnaround Unheralded 139

Chapter 8 The Fashionable Landlord 163

Chapter 9 A Year of Reckoning at the Met 177

Chapter 10 Close Encounters 197

Chapter 11 Civic Leaders Come and Go: In Search of Accountability 221

Chapter 12 Hale and Farewell 237

Chapter 13 Futures: The Third Sector's and My Own 255

Chapter 14 The Leadership Lessons That Matter Most 265

Appendix A 305

Appendix B 306

Appendix C 309

Appendix D 314

Notes 316

Selected Bibliography 324

Index 336

About the Author 349

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