This merger makes sense: Part 1

Posted on March 08, 2012 by Pam Truitt

The hottest news in nonprofit partnerships is the recently announced merger between the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera and Dayton Philharmonic.

The merger has been called rare and precedent-setting, and it does, no doubt, fit those descriptions. But it also makes so much sense.

Eighteen months before the merger, the groups announced that they were studying ways to streamline operations. A news article quote from Greg Robinson, Dayton Opera Board Chair stated:

“The study will look at how to retain the individual art forms, but share other operations all three do independently now.  For example, all three have their own development staffs and all three license the same software, at a considerable cost. The idea is to explore cost efficiencies, not to do away with anyone’s jobs.”

So, what makes sense if I don’t how things will turn out?  The process.  The organizations journeyed through a thoughtful process, and then determined that a merger was in their best interest.

Only time will tell if the decision to merge was the right one—and I wish them well in their goals to create a new organization and a new culture.

I was privileged to talk with Mike Parks, CEO of The Dayton Foundation, earlier this week about the merger. The foundation supported the process and will continue to provide funding to support the merger. Next week’s blog (Part II) will expand my thoughts about the process.

Do you think it’s possible for arts organizations in your community to explore streamlining operations?

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