Report: Clive Gillinson suspended by Carnegie Hall

Report: Clive Gillinson suspended by Carnegie Hall


norman lebrecht

September 17, 2015

The Wall Street Journal reports a breakdown of relations at Carnegie Hall between the new chairman, Ronald Perelman, and the English executive director, Sir Clive Gillinson.

Perelman accuses Gillinson of failing to obtain board approval for major deals, such as a branded competition funded by Warner’s Len Blavatnik. For a period of 24 hours last month, Gillinson was suspended from his job.

This is not over yet. Read here.

Perelman, a Wall Street bruiser, has advocated bringing more pop music to Carnegie Hall.


UPDATE: Perelman quits, but it’s still not over.



  • Robert Levine says:

    In terms of non-profit governance, this might be the biggest story of the century (so far anyway).

  • Milka says:

    It should be renamed Vulgar Hall

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    I am truly shocked. I just checked Sir Clive’s last reported annual compensation (2013 990) on $2,235,308.

    Mr. Perelman’s tactics are appropriate to the cut-throat corporate board room as are Clive’s $$$. I can’t believe that any arts executive should receive that reward and I am sure that a Chairman who thinks he is the boss of an arts institution is living his own personal fantasy. This is a dangerous situation for America’s most important presenting venue and a symptom of other fiascoes of recent vintage (Atlanta, Minnesota, etc).

    If the WSJ is reporting this, the story has legs as NL implies…..a sad day.

    • william osborne says:

      In 2009 Carnegie Hall paid Clive Gillinson $800,000. By 2015 it was $2,235,308 – an increase of 180%.

      Sadly, his grotesque salary is not unusual. Below are some examples of other high salaries for arts executives in 2009, as reported in the New York Times. For recent numbers I suspect one should add at least another 10 to 50% (and in some cases maybe something similar to the 180% increase Mr. Gillinson received.)

      * Reynold Levy’s annual compensation to run Lincoln Center tops $1 million.

      *Deborah Borda, Executive Director of the LA Phil currently makes 1.8 million per year. She’s paid more the Dudamel.

      * Glenn D. Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art, earned $2.7 million in the year that ended in June 2008, including several one-time bonuses and the cost of his apartment in the tower beside the museum.

      * Occasionally institutions will also pay bonuses tied to performance or longevity, like the $3.25 million given in 2006 to Philippe de Montebello to recognize his 30-year service to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (His aristocratic name fits well with America’s neo-feudalistic form of arts funding.)

      * On top of his $940,000 salary, Michael Kaiser of the Kennedy Center earned a $150,000 bonus, as well as other benefits, for 2009.

      * Zarin Mehta’s compensation, for fiscal year 2010, is $807,500. In the fiscal year ending in August 2008 he earned 2.67 million. This reflected his salary in addition to eight years of accumulated deferred compensation.

      * Timothy Rub, the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art earns $450,00.

      * George Steel, the general manager and artistic director of New York City Opera received $360,000 – and from an opera house shut down its next season due to a lack of funds.

      Part of the problem is that with America’s private funding system, organizations become inordinately dependent on high paid administrators who can wheedle money out of the wealthy. They also have to head huge, expensive “development departments” who have to reinvent the funding wheel every year. The public funding system used by Europeans is far more efficient, and its execs paid far less. There will be no change however, because the wealthy also own our political system.

      • Christy says:

        This is an odd list of disparate organizations. Lincoln Center is a groups of over a dozen organizations plus facilities maintenance of a large piece of NYC, and local initiatives that provide free performances of varying types throughout the year (Poetry, dance, local HD, vocal performances in squares of the city), plus veterans initiatives and a heck of a lot of free education. This (with almost a $40 million budget) is not the slightest bit comparable to something like the NYCO.

        Kennedy Center is the closes to Lincoln Center, except even these two aren’t really comparable since the former has a budget of almost $200 million and has been funded through Congress.

        Unless, you’re suggesting that the size of the organization should have no part in determining compensation?

        Lincoln and Kennedy Center have some of the highest percentages of public funding, as opposed to the Met Opera, for example.

        Kennedy in particular has been directly funded by Congress in the past, although I’m unclear if that’s changed in the last couple of years. In past budget appropriations, Congress has specifically funded the NEA, CPB, Smithsonian, and Kennedy Center (with between $30 and $40 million for the Center).

        Further, art museums are completely different entities than performing arts organizations – particularly MOMA. That is very special type of museum, which is frankly, awash in funding thanks to its celebrity connections. It is in another league of fundraising compared to something like the Metropolitan Opera.

        I think there’s value in comparing salaries of comparable organizations. But not organizations with budgets varying from one million to $200 million, and funding mechanisms from full donor to direct Congressional funding.

        • william osborne says:

          The numbers illustrate a cross-section of the high salaries of CEO’s in American non-profit arts organizations which have no comparison in any other developed country.

          • Petros LInardos says:

            Do you know of salary levels at high profile music institutions in Europe?

          • william osborne says:

            I don’t have numbers, but almost all museums and performing arts organizations in Europe are owned and operated by governments. The administrative positions even at the highest levels are civil service jobs whose salaries are codified by law. In some cases, the highest level administrators can negotiate for extra pay, but it doesn’t significantly change what they receive. The amounts for top positions at leading institutions are usually in the upper middle class range. They can be very well paid, but nothing like the American salaries I mention above. If I have time, I’ll try to find some numbers.

          • Christy says:

            I would also be interested in the overall budgets of these organizations you list and also a few examples of the salaries of private CEOs in UK firms. Thank you.

            Also, as I said, you included the Kennedy Center and it is funded by Congress. Lincoln Center also has a higher level of government funding. So, they are not apples to apples with the others you named that are mostly privately funded.

          • william osborne says:

            So privately funded arts organizations are justified in paying outrageous salaries to CEOs?

            The public systems in Europe lower not only administrative costs, but also costs in general. For example, the total budget of the Berlin Phil is about $39 million, which is only 52% of the Chicago Symphony’s at $74 million. The Met’s budget is $320 million while comparable houses in Europe, such as the Vienna State Opera, average about $150 million. Why are organizations like these in the USA twice as expensive as comparable organizations in Europe?

          • william osborne says:

            Here is some documentation that the Intendant (CEO) of the West German State Radio made $358,000 Euros in 2009. This is one of the highest paid culture related jobs in Germany. It would be very difficult to find a salary higher than this for an administrator of a museum, opera house, or orchestra which are considerably smaller institutions.


            Many other examples can be found if needed.

  • NYMike says:

    As a longtime subscriber and retired professional musician who played in CH many times, I’m surprised at this turn of events. I’ve thought that CH has thrived during Gillinson’s tenure as CEO.

    • Doug says:

      You are correct, they have thrived. Gillinson is stellar. But what you are witnessing is another prime example of a board that on the one hand wants to be in total control and on the other, is frozen by politics to not make any management decisions at all. So the one “easy” decision they can make, is to ramp up the heat on the CEO or go so far as to sack him. I just got off the phone with another arts CEO and he corroborates this pervasive attitude. Politics is ruining arts management.

    • herrera says:

      The issue isn’t whether CH is thriving, the issue is whether or not there were conflicts of interest between the Executive Director, members of the Board, and related third parties that should have been disclosed to and vetted by the full Board. The Chairman doesn’t want the Board to manage CH, he wants the Board to be more active in looking into these conflicts of interest. It’d seem that the Board either disagrees with the Chairman or really doesn’t give a hoot, in either case, the Board can vote out the Chairman.

      There are lots of officers and board members who treat their public nonprofit organizations like their own personal companies to do business and backroom deals with. Maybe the Chair is jealous and wants more deals for himself, maybe the Chair is an absolute saint and wants only the public good, who knows what his motivations are.

  • Justthemfacts says:

    Clive has run a tight ship and Mr. Perelman’s assertions do not hold water. He has been on the board for years and the stage is named after him. He paid top dollar. Where were his questions prior to his takeover of the hall? That’s what this is. He wants more Rock concerts. Read the press from a few months back.

  • Jevgeniy says:

    See Songfest’s post above. NYTimes announces that it’s Perelman that will step down. A victory for everyone who cares about music and Carnegie Hall. Yes, CG’s tenure has been extraordinarily successful.

  • NYMike says:

    For everyone’s info:

    Ron Perelman to Quit as Carnegie Hall Board Chairman

    Thursday, September 17, 2015 – 06:00 PM
    By Brian Wise / WNYC Newsroom

    Ronald Perelman at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. Enlarge
    Ronald Perelman at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. (David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons)
    There’s drama of a different sort at Carnegie Hall.

    Billionaire financier Ronald O. Perelman is quitting after seven months as chairman of Carnegie Hall’s board of trustees.

    Perelman had accused the storied music venue’s executive director, Clive Gillinson, of poor oversight and other improprieties, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

    Carnegie Hall did not comment on Perelman’s announcement but through a spokesperson, Gillinson previously said he’s proud of his decade of work at Carnegie Hall.

    The New York Times reports that the hall’s board has named a lawyer to investigate Perelman’s governance concerns.

    In May, Perelman succeeded Sanford Weill, who retired after 24 years as board chairman. A longtime supporter of Carnegie Hall, Perelman has served as a trustee since 1988, and served as vice chairman of the board from 2012 to 2015. In 2006, Perelman is reported to have donated nearly $60 million to Carnegie and World Trade Center Memorial, among other charities.

  • William Safford says:

    A quick comment on the footnote about bringing pop music to Carnegie Hall:

    I have noticed that there is a lot of down time in the Carnegie Hall schedule.

    I have no objection if that down time were filled with pop music performances. After all, one of my favorite CDs is the Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall — the pop music of the day. Plus I did get to hear him there, decades later, with Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson.

    I further would approve if revenues from such concerts helped fund the Hall and subsidize classical concerts.

    I would object if such concerts supplanted classical concerts.

  • Robert Levine says:

    Salaries for top arts administrators are indeed high in the U.S. Unfortunately it’s a seller’s market; managers of the calibre of the top U.S. orchestra managers are thin on the ground. And, of course, they can’t get stock options.

  • Ronald says:

    I was interested in the various comments about Clive Gillinson’s salary, so I have just checked the Carnegie Hall 2013 990 for the year referred to above, and this is what it says: His salary was $929,440 with a total reported compensation package of $2.2 million. Column 3 reported for that year includes $1,083,200—a one-time-only amount tied to a retirement plan that vested in that year, which I assume has to be reported as taxable income? Robert – sometimes useful to check the facts before commenting?