University of Michigan’s Van Besien on need for flexibility during pandemic

Posted on: May 1, 2020

“University Musical Society at the University of Michigan presents 60-75 performances in music, theater and dance annually and offers over 100 free education activities throughout its season,” writes Meredith Bruckner in Friday’s (4/24) WDIV-TV (Michigan). “UMS’ season was cut short this year…. UMS president Matthew VanBesien … a veteran in performing arts management [leadership roles at the Houston Symphony, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic] … said that UMS plans to announce its next season on April 30, but acknowledges that the season ‘most certainly will be disrupted’ by the pandemic and its potential lasting effects. Q: What do you predict the next year will look like for the performing arts sector? Van Besien: When 9/11 happened and then the financial crisis in 2009, those were real stress tests for organizations. This is a stress test that I don’t think many organizations have ever faced before…. It’s going to require flexibility and dynamic thinking…. We’re forging ahead and announcing our new season.… We know it will most certainly be disrupted or altered…. We’re pouring our energy now into preparing to create an environment that’s safe for everyone from a public health standpoint, but that’s dynamic and still allows for artists and audiences to have great artistic experiences together.”