One of the recommendations, intended to improve the performance of CEO Anne Ewers, is that Ewers stop acting as the general manager of the Utah Opera in addition to her CEO duties and the directorship of the Deer Valley Music Festival.
The board approved Ewers' revised job description. Ewers said she "breathed a sigh of relief" when Thomas W. Morris, who reviewed the US&O's finances and administration and presented his report to the board at the end of February, suggested that her workload was overwhelming.
Morrris was brought in because the organization's finances were in perilous shape. The 2002 merger of the Utah Opera and Utah Symphony was meant to create business efficiencies, but instead resulted in a drop in both ticket sales in donations, partly, Morris found, due to dilution of each company's perceived brand.
The recommendations were made by a task force assembled to look into the report that came out of Morris's investigation (Morris's financial-recovery plan was adopted by the board at the end of February). Among the approved recommendations were the establishment of a new oversight task force to manage how the recommendations are put into practice; the hiring of a board consultant; and an increased presence in the community for music director Keith Lockhart.
The musicians, who have been playing without a contract since last September, vote on the new three-year contract today. Previously, the musicians made it a condition of any new contract that Morris's recommendations be unequivocally accepted. It is not known whether the new contract contains this condition.
Bassoonist Christine Osborne called the approval of the task-force recommendations "an important first step," but added, "recommendations won't turn us around. Action is critical."