Concert Association of Florida Ousts Founder Judy Drucker

Classic Arts News   Concert Association of Florida Ousts Founder Judy Drucker
Judy Drucker, the 78-year-old impresario who founded the Concert Association of Florida and developed it over four decades into the region's most significant presenter of classical music, has been voted out as president by the organization's board of directors, reports The Miami Herald.

"Judy has been at the helm for 40 years, and it's time for fresh leadership that can take it on," board chairman Robert Hudson told the paper.

Drucker will remain as an advisor, however, and a gala 40th anniversary career tribute and celebration planned for next season will go ahead.

She has been replaced by Al Milano, a 63-year-old arts administrator and fundraiser who was hired last fall as the CAF's first CEO to work alongside Drucker. "I think they felt that two people in charge wouldn't work," Drucker told the Herald referring to the board's vote on Monday (June 4).

Milano told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that there were no problems between him and Drucker. "I'm amazed," he said. "I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with her, and look forward to her advice in the coming season."

But Drucker told the same paper, "Too many cooks spoiled the broth. We didn't see eye-to-eye."

According to the Herald, the board — which wants fresh leadership to tackle CAF's growing deficit, which is now over $2 million — worried that Milano, who was the Carnival Center's head fundraiser until CAF hired him last year, might depart. He had reportedly requested he be given a "free hand," which was difficult given that Drucker had run the institution by herself for so many years.

The Concert Association reportedly attracted fewer corporate sponsors and subscribers this season, while rental costs and other expenses climbed after its move to the Carnival Center last fall. (The organization also presents some events at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale and the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach.)

Milano reportedly plans to make '"adjustments"' to the upcoming season and schedule more performances by local music organizations and to collaborate with other Carnival Center resident groups.

The Herald writes that Drucker's departure surprised some in the local arts community but others agreed a leadership change would help the organization.

Suzanne Gunzburger, a Broward County commissioner and Concert Association board member, told the paper, "Judy is absolutely fabulous when it comes to identifying up-and-coming artists. She's wonderful in having loyalty from the people who she started out as newcomers. But her one weakness is budget, and there have been financial problems with the Concert Association for years."

Drucker founded the CAF in 1967 at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach; by the next year the series had moved into the Gleason Theater. Over the past 40 years Drucker developed the organization into the largest classical presenter in the southeastern U.S. and brought to South Florida a vast array of stars: Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Andr_ Watts, Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Cecilia Bartoli, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and many other great soloists and leading orchestras and dance companies.

As for the future, retirement doesn't seem to be in Drucker's plans. "I couldn't live without being in the music world," she told the Herald, "but obviously I have to seek other alternatives at this point."

Her departure agreement includes a non-compete clause for Miami-Dade County but not for Broward County, according to the Herald. The Sun-Sentinel reported that she had scheduled a meeting this week to explore the idea of launching a new concert series at the Broward Center, which has consistently been the CAF's most successful venue since the organization began presenting events there in 1991.

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