Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Miami Madness Strikes Again: Carnival Center CEO Gets 42 percent Pay Raise

It costs $26 million a year to run Miami's Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, so giving its CEO Michael Hardy a 42 percent raise today that will bring his base salary up to $326,255 a year may not seem so out of line until you consider what this well-paid "professional" has done to earn it:
  • Among other things, the man under estimated electrical expenses for the PAC's annual budget by basing air-conditioning costs on square feet instead of cubic feet which led it to beg for another $4 million from the county-- in the first seven months of opening its doors.
  • He closed the PAC for the summer to save money since no shows were booked.
  • Despite being on the job since 2002, Hardy only now is trying to figure out what Miami wants and what price it is willing to pay to see it. In other words, he's putting together a marketing survey more than a year after opening.

Any other "professional" would have been fired. Not here in "Bizzaro World" where everything is opposite of what you expect; where the "code" is "Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World."

As we have stated before to our two readers, Hardy has to go. As for PAC programming, again our solution for this unique community is: "Less Bach, More Batista".

UpDate (10/11): No Bonus For You! According to the Miami Herald, the trust that manages Carnival Center, "already 10 days late on a $1.5 million debt payment for construction costs, has decided against awarding" Hardy an annual bonus up to $57,000. And, Commissioner Javier Souto has scheduled a public discussion of Hardy's pay raise for October 16th. Regarding the 42 percent pay raise Hardy got, Souto said he would only raise him "50 cents so they can drink some coffee and wake up about how people feel about the PAC."


Gus Moore said...

For a blog with only 2 readers, you are the first blogger to write about this. Thank you.

Verticus, something tells me you have more readers than you think.

Keep up the good work!

Verticus S. Erectus said...

Well, thanks, Gus, we appreciate it. Perhaps there are more readers but if there are not, at least we know that within moments of posting, we've reached half of our readership! What media conglamorate can say that?

Steve ("Klotz" As In "Blood") said...

Hi! I'm the other reader.

Problem here sounds like the same one that plagues many non-profit organizations, large and small: the people in charge are volunteers who mean well for the most part, but don't really know the inside-outs of the organization. As a non-profit executive and consultant myself, I see this all the time.

Even if that's totally wrong, who the hell gets a 42% raise?

Verticus S. Erectus said...

Guys like Peter Principle and Michael Hardy. Klotz, thanks for standing up to be my number two man. We appreciate it. Regarding your assessment of arts org volunteers, from what I can see locally, many of them are sycophants without a clue, who toe the party line lest they be excluded from the party. Because of them, we get a half billion dollar performing arts center that will never pay for itself and a new bayfront art museum that was steamrolled into existence by the museum's director Terence Riley who had already made up his mind what firm would get the job long before the horse and pony show he trotted before the public of competing architects. I was at that meeting when it was announced Herzog and deMuron would be the designers. Riley had the place crawling with cheek-kissing rubber stampers and it was quite frankly embarrassing (not to mention a major disappointment for MVB since we were rooting for Frank Gehry). I think most monied arts volunteers here are pretentious pretenders who don't have a clue about art unless someone tells them what to think. These are the same lock-step zombies who remain quiet while their friends in high places allow the Noguchi fountain in Bayfront Park to be turned into a cheap balloon ride.

C.L. Jahn said...

It's deja vu all over again.

Every time a community builds a performing arts center, critics complain that it will never pay for itself. And every time, they are wrong.

Yes, the Carnival Center is off to a bad start. But not a horrible start. Anyone who works in the field (I do) knows that the first couple of years you're luck to break even, and will probably run in the red.

Some of the expenses were unforeseen - the cost of police for security, for instance. It's more than would be spent in Broward or Palm Beach, but then those counties don't REQUIRE that you use off-duty police at overtime rates.

Kravis Center, admittedly, opened on-time and underbudget. They also didn't produce as much of their schedule. CCPA produced or co-produced an astonishing amount of work for a new company.

I find the ticket sales to be healthier for the programming I expected to see this season, and that the self-produced bookings were as low as I'd expect for a new company just starting out.

They're cutting back on producing shows, and that will cut a lot of the overhead. The booked shows did well, and if they can grow that attendance the center will be in the black in five or six years, possibly less if they book some smash hits.

If it looks like a disaster to you, all I can say is that you don't produce live entertainment in Florida. The numbers, although not good, are not that bad.

And now you have THREE readers.

Verticus S. Erectus said...

Well, C.L, MVB appreciates all the readers it can get no matter what their take on our content. However, we find it hard to agree with you on everything, especially when it comes to cutting Hardy and company some slack when it comes to expenses that were "unforseen," i.e., a county rule that only allows off-duty police to act as security guards (at overtime rates). How could they not know? Still, we hope you're right about it succeeding down the road. We think it will-- only if it lowers the culture bar even further than it already has. From what we read in the Miami Herald, even Broadway musicals don't fare well here. We think the Carnival Center will become a bellwether for America's cultural future, mimicking the last stages in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire (which, of course, we know best what with our publisher having a name like Verticvs S. Erectvs).

C.L. Jahn said...

""unforseen," i.e., a county rule that only allows off-duty police to act as security guards (at overtime rates). How could they not know?"

I'll tell you how: because we spent most of our lives working in the entire rest of the country. Every other place in the country allows you to hire licensed guards: only corrupt Miami forces you to pay overtime to their own employees. And that figure is outrageously high. It might be cheaper to simply buy out the homelesss every night; "here's a $50: go get stoned uptown."

I'm not saying mistakes weren't made; they were. But running in the red the first few years is par for the course for this kind of endeavor. It's very rare to break even by the fourth year, let alone in the first.

As for the "cultural bar?" It's not as high as you think. I was surprised by some of the programming this season - it's obvious to me that they are attempting to reach out.

As someone who produces theater in South Florida, I can tell you that it's not so much that Broadway musicals don't sell - they do - as much as no one really plans ahead regarding their leisure activities. Here in Miami, we decide at the last minute, so we pick things that we perceive we can do at the last minute.

It makes budgeting shows very difficult: nationwide, theaters use their subscriber base to calculate budgets. That's because subscribers in the rest of the country account for over half the tickets sold.
But in Miami, that number is closer to a third of tickets sold, and you can't do theater for that amount. So we go back into past sales, and find our average sales over the last few years. That gives an accurate budget figure. But you can see the problem for a new venue: they have no past sales to go by.