Milwaukee’s New Top Exec

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, hoping to dig its way out from under a $4 million accumulated debt, has hired Mark C. Hanson as its new executive director. Hanson has run the Knoxville (TN) Symphony for the past two seasons, and received a national award recognizing his progress in both financial and artistic areas there. Hanson is quite young – 29 years old – but his record in retiring debt was apparently attractive to the MSO’s search committee, and he is himself a musician, which is often thought to be an important factor to an orchestra’s players.

Sony Pictures To Lay Off 300

Sony Pictures plans to lay off 300 workers in the next year and a half. “The layoffs will follow the elimination of 1,000 jobs in the entertainment and electronics giant’s struggling music group earlier this year. The new cuts are expected to hit across the board at Sony Pictures’ key business units, including its Culver City-based Columbia Pictures movie studio, domestic and international television operations and Sony Pictures Digital. Sources estimate that the cuts could save the company as much as $75 million a year.”

Seattle Symphony Hires Controversial New Exec Director

The Seattle Symphony hires a new executive director. Paul Meecham is currently orchestra manager of the New York Philharmonic, but his appointment in Seattle is controversial, and didn’t win the full support of the orchestra’s board of directors. “According to musicians, Meecham had earlier made derogatory statements about longtime music director Gerard Schwarz’s conducting and recordings in a meeting with several musicians.”

Ann Godoff’s New Crop

Ann Godoff, who was fired from Random House last year, is out with her first set of books at new employer Penguin. “The first sign that the Penguin Press is not your run-of-the-mill commercial publisher is the plain-brown-paper catalog cover. Inside, each of the 14 books gets a two-page spread, as opposed to the one-page announcement that many catalogs give most books. Each book cover is shown in black and white (surely, in the flesh, there’ll be some color) and otherwise illustrated with sepia photo strips. Nothing flashy here. The message seems to be: ‘We’re Old World—smart and subdued.’ Penguin Press is the publishing equivalent of shabby chic.

Leaving San Diego Alive

When Don Bacigalupi arrived as director of the San Diego Museum of Art in 1999, the museum was considered a difficult job. “What a difference four years and new leadership makes. The museum has risen to national respectability by generating high-quality exhibitions touching on all areas of the collection, revitalizing the collection itself through judicious acquisitions, and establishing a collegial relationship with other museums in Balboa Park, across town, across the United States and beyond.” Now Bacigalupi departs to head up the Toledo Art Museum.

Carded – Orange County Arts

Orange County arts groups introduce an arts card. “The OC Arts Card, sponsored by Arts Orange County, will provide 10-40 percent discounts at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, South Coast Repertory and about 40 other local arts institutions. Discounts will range from savings on admission and tickets to reductions on classes and gift-shop items. Proceeds will support arts education in the county and help fund arts grants.”