After 8 1/2 years, Fort Wayne Philharmonic President and CEO J.L. Nave III will resign from the organization in December, the Philharmonic board announced Wednesday.
The announcement comes weeks before the orchestra opens its 71st season on Sept. 27. Nave will step down Dec. 31, the same day the one-year contracts for union musicians are set to expire, according to the agreement reached in February.
Nave said now that the organization is gaining momentum, he has been pursuing a number of new opportunities over the past few months.
“It’s something that I’ve been thinking about since the end of the last season. So I started to have some informal discussions with board leadership that I didn’t want to seek an extension for my contract, which was to be settled in January,” Nave said.
Board chair Carol Lindquist said the organization is in the process of putting a search committee together and hopes to have the negotiations settled before the December deadline, but there is a management contingency plan in place if there isn’t a predecessor at that time.
“Our timeline is aggressive,” Lindquist said. “The Fort Wayne Philharmonic has a tremendous reputation nationally and we’re very proud of that. When people think of orchestras like ours, they really want to be a part of it, so we expect to have very strong applications for the position.”
Nave joined the Philharmonic in 2006 after serving in a similar position in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The orchestra’s challenges were in motion when he arrived. During his first year, the orchestra had a deficit of $500,000 before a $2.3 million gift from the estates of Wilda Gene Marcus and Amy Morrill put the orchestra in the black. The fix was temporary.
Throughout Nave’s tenure, the orchestra has been operating on a deficit that has reached to more than $2.3 million; the orchestra’s 2011-12 season is the only season since 2007 where the orchestra’s expenses did not exceed its revenue.
Despite hardships, he has accomplished a 30 percent increase in the number of subscribers for the orchestra’s Masterworks series and established title sponsors for all of the Philharmonic’s programs.
“I really accomplished most of what I was brought here to accomplish. It’s a very different organization than it certainly was when I came here,” Nave said. “I was brought in to get that momentum going again and now that it’s happened, it’s time for someone else to run with that, and bring their own strengths and ideas to it.”