"The TITANIC of Venues"
Many of you know of Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, CA.....a very beautiful estate originally left to the people from Senator James Phelan many years ago, for the explicit reason of expanding the arts in that community and having his estate enjoyed by all who visit, but the arts, ALL THE ARTS, were his main concern, ...that it should flourish.
You have probably seen many wonderful artists over the years, I know I have...since I have worked there for seven years and the reason for my discontent in the flagrant disregard for their employees and making it the TITANIC OF VENUES!!
Here, hence is my story....
When I first began working there in Feb of 2000, I found it exciting since I had been in the music industry and related jobs for many years and the possibility of meeting and dealing with some of the top artists of our day was exciting. The fact that this was a non profit gave me a good feeling in my heart and soul knowing that even though the money was not large, as that was not what I was in it for, the overall community was a positive place to be. I enjoyed my years there until the last few years, but I digress and will get back to that and the reason for this website.
I have had the true honor and pleasure of working directly with such great artists as Tony Bennett, Bill Cosby, Dave Brubeck, Robin Williams, Liza Minnelli, Chris Botti and way too many more to mention throughout the years. Remember there were hundreds of shows over the seven years and lots of wonderful memories and friends, not only of some of the artists but of the workers and volunteers as well.
Ok, so now you are wondering why I am calling Montalvo the "Titanic of Venues"....there is a very good reason and I will now explain...
As of last year, 2006 a new Exec. Director was hired when the last E.D., Elisabeth Challener left after 18 years of service in that position. The new Exec. Dir., Robert Sain, came from an "artsy" background knowing nothing of the music business or how to run anything outside of an arthouse...how is this beneficial? Well, he will make you believe in all of his spin and p.r. that he is here to make Montalvo something new and exciting in the community and expand the art world. How is he going to do this? Even he doesnt believe his own press anymore, as you can see it in the questions in the meetings....so, the first thing he did was latch onto a lesser brainpower that convinced him to be his right hand man...and in my opinion the reason Montalvo is sliding ever so quickly into the dark abyss!!
Mr. Sain would have had you convinced as he pulled the proverbial wool also over the heads, eyes, and ears of the Board of Directors....who are supposed to be smart intelligent individuals within the community looking out for the good of Montalvo, and standing up when need be, but obviously they have taken his words hook, line and sinker!! Sorry guys, but to quote a line from Pretty Woman "Big Mistake..Big Mistake!!"
Why are so many people leaving this organization and why have so many of the top positions left within the last 6 months? Here is a no brainer for you....Why does a CFO leave? ....I wont answer that for you...
Now dont get me wrong, I am not saying Mr. Sain should know all there is to know about the music industry and how to run a venue, but why are you messing with what works and what the locals love and support? Did you know that Montalvo was listed just last year, 2006, as the BEST VENUE IN THE SOUTH BAY? It was also listed this year, Sept. 2007 in The WAVE Magazine as the best music venue...so why are these misfits ruining a great South Bay treat???
The board was told that it wasnt making money so they would have to begin to deplete its "services", and they got this line from Mr. Sain and his co-hort Gordon Knox, and in my opinion, the real conspirator and rip off con man of the organization. The truth behind this is that the amphitheatre has actually paid for itself and has been self sufficient except for the help to run it for the past couple of years, but Mr Sain has notified the board otherwise, and they listened!!!! Mr. Knox most especially not only doesnt have a clue to what is happening and is going along his way willy-nilly without true knowledge of anything other than cashing his checks.....while we are on the discussion of money and Mr. Knoxs' checks....let me give you some insight to this....
FIRST, be aware that the information I am giving you is open to the public, although the CFO wants you to believe that this is private information but I think he may be covering it in some quagmire in the books...hmmmmmm.....but they are a non profit and therefore bound by the statutes both state and federal, that the books are open to the public and you can find out how much they are making and the overall check distributions, if you so choose....
This past season, through their incredible brain trust, they decided that the venue no longer needed a "venue manager" and released this person due to "budgetary restraints". That same week, Gordon Knox received a check for not only a raise of just under $600 per paycheck but also a $10k retroactive payment...but there is no money for necessary managers? trust me, a venue manager IS a necessary position!! This position was given to a glorified secretary whose position has grown from the former artistic directors secretary to being Gordon Knox's right hand...the blind leading the blind....Lorraine Wright, the secretary in question, has no professional abilities, in my or anyone elses opinion that I have asked that is aware of the situation, when it comes to being put in the position of management. She was asked to assimilate and coordinate the contracts, which in past years have been completed by Feb. to be put into the system by March and to rollout the season by the beginning of June summer season. Contracts were still under negotiation in May!! what??? She also signed contracts without reading them, assuming that whatever was on there was status quo, and because of this they almost ended up with selling tickets for a maximum of a ridiculous sum, such as $25 aticket!!!
Now this is a great thing for all of us to see an artist for free, practically, but for the bottom line.....I dont think so!!!!! But why should they care, they dont want it to succeed...have you seen any advertising? Do you know who is appearing this year? I have been asked, Is there a season this year? No one seems to have, or want to have answers...they will just blow you off with spin....dont be surprised if they run for a government office, they already have the b.s. covered!!
Ok, so since Sain, and his cohorts Knox and Wright, are continuing to run this circus without a master of ceremonies, since they certainly dont have the capability or knowledge, they continue to preach the "dream" of making Montalvo a world class location for arts all over. If they truly believed in this dream, then talk the talk and walk the walk and dont take huge salaries, that way if it does succeed as you preach, and thats a HUGE IF, then the money will be there next year, instead you know deep in your heart of hearts that this wont work and you are just padding your pockets as fast and furious as you can before the last link reaches the locks on the doors!!
ARE YOU GOING TO SUPPORT AN ORGANIZATION SUCH AS THIS?
LETS PLACE THAT BET WITH VEGAS NOW...THE DOORS WILL BE LOCKED SHUT WITHIN THE YEAR, AND AN UNFORTUNATE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE WILL BE OUT ON THE STREET WHILE SAIN AND KNOX SIT ATOP THEIR EXPENSIVE VIEW HOMES AND LOOK FOR THEIR NEXT PREY...
DONT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN...WRITE YOUR PAPERS AND TV TO INVESTIGATE THIS FURTHER!!!!!
Potential litigation is also in the works regarding sexual discrimination charges...they are ignoring all attempts at discussion and mediation.