Carnival Center Gets New CEO

Classic Arts News   Carnival Center Gets New CEO
 
The governing board of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in Miami has voted to engage Lawrence Wilker, a theatrical producer and former chief executive of the Kennedy Center, as interim CEO, effective immediately.

Wilker replaces Michael Hardy, around whom the latest of several controversies broke out last month when the Carnival Center board voted to increase his salary by 42 percent, retroactive to the center's opening in October 2006.

The Carnival Center also hired a new executive vice president, Scott Shiller. He and Wilker will be with the Center for six months before the PAC Trust negotiates new contracts. Wilker will probably receive an annual salary comparable to Hardy's $326,255, Trust chair Parker Thomson told the Miami Herald.

Wilker is a principal of TheatreDreams, a production company whose works have won a Tony award and an Emmy. During his ten years at the Kennedy Center, from which he resigned in 2000, the Center saw its debt paid, fundraising increase from $13 million to $38 million annually, and attendance and events more than double. He is also credited with creating the PBS series, Kennedy Center Presents, and Comedy Central's Mark Twain Comedy Awards.

The Carnival Center, which was built at nearly 80% above its projected cost and one year behind scheduled, suffered an estimated $5.4 million loss in its opening seasoning, prompting an advisory visit from Kennedy executives in July.

Wilker would like to see more popular music concerts, Broadway shows and free events. His priorities include increasing attendance at the Center's own events and "balancing financial viability with the mission to present and produce culturally relevant performances," said PAC Trust Chair Ricky Arriola.

"Now's the right time for change," PAC Trust member Evelyn Greer said.

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