Welcome to Madison, Ted. You've got a great place to work and a fantastic city to work in.
Ted DeDee has been selected by the Overture Center Foundation board to succeed Tom Carto and become the arts center's fourth president since its opening about six years ago. From everything I've read and learned about him, he is a good choice.
In many ways, DeDee resembles the man he replaces. Like Carto, he comes with a reputation for being a good manager and fundraiser. He seems to be an even- tempered guy like Tom, which is good because with so much controversy swirling around Overture since its inception, what that organization needs right now is a long period of calm. We want drama on the Overture stages; we don't need it in the front office.
DeDee even comes from a much smaller facility in Ohio, exactly Tom's background before I hired him, though Ted did spend time at larger venues as well.
But Ted DeDee will have one big advantage that Tom didn't have for almost all of his tenure: a management structure that makes sense. Before the painful restructuring that took place on my watch but didn't go into effect until last month, the Overture management chart looked like spaghetti. The president reported to both the mayor and the Madison Cultural Arts District. He also ran the nonprofit fundraising arm for Overture, the 201 State Foundation. And apart from all that, there was even another group that invested the money in the ill-fated trust that was supposed to provide the arts center with millions in proceeds every year
But that's all cleared away now. Ted DeDee was hired by the Foundation pure and simple. He reports to the Foundation. The Foundation pays his salary. There are, finally, clear lines of responsibility. The birthing of all that fourteen months ago was painful for everybody, but it looks like it's working, because the first major decision made by the Foundation appears to be an excellent one.
DeDee will need some patience. Overture isn't out of the woods yet. Raising $2 million a year in the private sector is a tall order and the lingering recession doesn't help, but even there things are looking up. It's good to have the talented Janet Piraino at the helm for development at Overture. One of Brava Magazine's 2012 Women to Watch, Piraino is lucky to have had the chance to work for Carto and now DeDee after years of putting up with her previous boss, a guy who really knew something about crashing and burning. (That'd be me.)
As for Tom Carto, I hope he'll take a new job soon, because I've got better things to do than field calls from cities around the country that want him to come work for them. He'll be fine and so too, I believe, will Ted DeDee and, in the long-run, Overture as a whole. Give the new leaders of Overture credit. Things are very much on the right track.