I was surprised and impressed by the straightforward way in which the Japan Society, a NYC institution founded a century ago to strengthen U.S.-Japan relations — came clean about its trials in last week’s feature article in The New York Times.
Being that NYC is such a cultural center, I’m frequently reading about the ups and downs of its cultural institutions of various sizes, foci and board configurations. But rarely have I heard from a president as refreshingly honest as Richard J. Wood, named in May to succeed former leader Frank L. Ellsworth who resigned after a brief yet tumultuous tenure.
According to writer Robin Pogrebin, Ellsworth left the Japan Society with an almost-empty exhibition calendar for the next five years, and an alienated membership and major donor base. Mr. Wood has come in and "put the gallery on a very restricted financial diet," while reaching out (with great success to some former Society friends, and many new ones.
Dirty laundry indeed. But by facing the reality head on, and speaking about his plans to fix it, Richard Wood demonstrates skillful crisis communications. I am confident that under his leadership, the Japan Society will regain a great deal of its focus, budget and supporters lost over recent years. And audience confidence is the ultimate goal of crisis communications.
Bravo, Mr. Wood.
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