At TCG I heard from many people asking what was new in my correspondence with Todd Olson. (Part one and part two.)
The answer is nothing—there has been only silence for well over a month from Mr. Olson since his last email to me, in which he stated:
On any of these subjects, if you could, even in the most philosophical way, talk about how you would bridge these chasms or restructure for better workability. If you can then let’s consider your consultancy begun. My promise to you is, if your answers sound like there is a hint of promise worth pursuing (and budget work started Monday, so I’m up for all good suggestions), I will enter into this relationship more, just as you suggested.
I responded here, and I have heard nothing from Mr. Olson. I do not know if his offer was made in bad faith, but it would have been civil of him to at least send a simple email explaining why he has decided to drop the ball so entirely. I've taken him entirely seriously; it would have been polite for him to show a similar courtesy.
To be clear: I didn't begin this conversation—it began with a challenge from Mr. Olson, delivered both to me and very publicly to American Theatre magazine. He created the terms and the public nature of the conversation, and he set a hostile and dismissive tone in his first email.
Despite the inauspicious beginning, I think we've been able to spin some straw into gold—the discussion, as far as it has gone, has been interesting if not fruitful, and ignited discussions elsewhere with some substance to them. For what it was, it's been interesting.
If other artistic directors, managing directors, et al out there wish to ever open a discussion with me, the email link is always open. I don't bite unless provoked, and love a good discussion. I also do not post emails received without the permission of the writer, unless you've also sent the email to American Theatre magazine or something of that nature. Ask around to your colleagues—I know many of them.
It would be great if this semi-ridiculous enterprise led to better, richer conversations in the future—that would be the best possible outcome.
Having given Mr. Olson over 30 days, I am going to assume he's forfeiting his "challenge" and this exchange will draw to a close. Hopefully the next time Mr. Olson offers the financial data on his institution to someone he has little respect for it will go more successfully for him.