Article by Graydon Royce, Star Tribune | August 30, 2014
Kevin Smith has put out the word: If you want to help the Minnesota Orchestra, no idea is dumb and no donation too small.
Last week’s announcement of $13.2 million in private donations, including an extraordinary $10 million gift, certainly buoyed Smith’s new job as the orchestra’s interim president.
But the windfall doesn’t lessen Smith’s ardor for democracy and collaboration as he leads Minnesota’s largest and oldest performing-arts group out of its darkest period.
“The dynamic here is not out of control, but it’s wild right now,” said Smith as the orchestra prepares a month of season-opening concerts and events — including a gala Friday with Renée Fleming. (Remember? She sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl.)
So if you have thoughts on how the orchestra can avoid long lockouts, big annual deficits, public scorn and international ridicule, come on in.
Smith is betting team spirit will sell tickets to the orchestra’s first full season in three years, win grass-roots donations and burnish a brand badly damaged by the longest lockout in American symphonic history.
Smith, longtime head of the Minnesota Opera, is only temping as the orchestra board searches for a permanent replacement for the departing Michael Henson.