Though an official announcement has not been made, an inside source has stated that ex-Banff chief Jeff Melanson is currently en route to Toronto to formalize a deal as the new CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, beginning fall of 2014. This scoop comes on the heels of his surprise announcement that he will be stepping down from his two-year stint at Banff, declared just 13 days ago.
Mr. Melanson stated that he was leaving his position at the Banff Art Centre in order to be with his two children and new fiancé, Toronto based classical-crossover singer, Eleanor McCain.
It is no secret the TSO is in big trouble. They have been ignoring declining attendance for years, and have amassed a hefty deficit of over $12-million dollars and climbing. As an orchestra, they are not alone, but the board has taken a proactive approach, which is most likely the motivation behind the procurement of a new arts visionary.
According to an interview with Toronto Star entertainment reporter Martin Knelman, the TSO interim CEO Roberta Smith, stated she could, “…neither confirm nor deny…” if Mr. Melanson was planning on being hired or not.
Without revealing too much, Mr. Melanson told the Toronto Star’s Knelman that he has been exploring new job prospects, but would not be making any official announcements until next week.
Looking back on Mr. Melanson’s track record, he received a fair amount of criticism over his choice of including popular music as part of Banff’s residency program. As one of the bastions of classical music residencies, musicians feared they would lose favour at the institution. These fears appeared to fade when Mr. Melanson assured the wary bunch that classical music will continue to be alive and well at Banff for a long time to come.
Mr. Melanson also took a short-lived position as Arts Advisor to Toronto’s Rob Ford administration. During this time, he helped stave-off a proposed $6-million dollar cut to the city’s arts funding as part of Ford’s fabled gravy train barrage.
In an interview with a Banff newspaper, Mr. Melanson stated that his most rewarding accomplishments during his run as President has been the new strategic plan and dissemination strategies, which have included Banff Centre radio and a renewed Banff Centre Press.
Mr. Melanson will need to be on top of his game if he will have any impact on TSO’s bottom line. But judging from his stellar track record as Canada’s arts administration wunderkind, the TSO looks to be in good hands.