Robert Stickler, who steered the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra back into smoother waters over the last three seasons, has told his board of directors he would like to retire as president before the end of the upcoming season.
“It’s an intense job,” says the man who has held it – always with the understanding that he wouldn’t stay long – since the summer of 2012. “Marsha and I would like to throw our golf clubs in a bag and travel, and I can’t really do that now.”
Stickler, who’ll turn 65 in March, became interim executive director in 2012 after the departure of Jonathan Martin, then took the job on a formal basis a year later. Since then, the CSO has put together its first back-to-back seasons in the black since 2001-2002.
“The job’s more stable than it has been,” says Stickler. “I hope my successor will do more things well than I do. I can think outside the musical box, but I am not a strong fundraiser.”
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Brian Cromwell, chairman of the board, has begun to convene a search committee with Chris Teat, who’ll take over Cromwell’s position in July 2016. Would that committee seek someone with arts administrative experience, a strong business background, or both?
“I think we’ll look for the best possible candidate, whoever that may be, but someone who wants to be at the symphony for a decade or more,” he says. “They’ll be coming into a good situation, so it’s an attractive job.”
Cromwell noted that the musicians negotiated a three-year contract last season, music director Christopher Warren-Green has signed on for another three years, the quality of players has risen under his baton, and the board has a leadership succession plan in place. So the new hire should start with two relatively calm seasons.
“We’ll be looking for someone with business acumen, strategic agility, the ability to build a team – a well-rounded overall leader who can easily be recognized around the city,” says Cromwell.
“Our senior staff deserves that, our philanthropic partners deserve it, and Bob deserves it. I don’t think anyone’s more dedicated to the success of the symphony than he has been. He stepped up when we needed him to step up, and I hope he’ll stick around to advise us during the transition.”