Anne Ewers is stepping down — however not far — native the Kimmel center after almost a decade and also a half


She raised millions, looked after renovations, and changed the Kimmel’s mission come lean less on philanthropy and much more on deserve revenue.

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Kimmel president anne Ewers at the Kimmel center in 2019.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / employee Photographer

When anne Ewers took over an noble Boston Lyric Opera in the 1980s, she determined that she required $18,000 to obtain the company back ~ above its feet, so at her an initial opera board meeting she handed out pledge cards and asked each plank member to write down what he or she was willing to give.

“When the cards came earlier I said, ‘Gentlemen, we are at $3,000 short.’ Whoosh — sent out the cards roughly again.’”

The second appeal reaped what she needed.

That endure would come in handy decades later as soon as Ewers ended up being chief that the Kimmel Center. Philadelphia’s answer come Lincoln center was tho struggling v loans left over from the construction about 2000 and also there was no straightforward solution in sight.

She worked to assemble a package of funding from board members and also area philanthropies that erased the debt. It was an echo of her strategy in Boston.

“It’s just including zeros, that’s all it is. Exact same job, add zeroes,” she said.

Of course, in Philadelphia there were many more zeroes. The debt she inherited at the Kimmel was $30 million, and also Ewers has actually spent the critical 14 years on the perpetual fund-raising treadmill that jobs like this have become.

Now she’s all set to action off. Ewers announced a few months earlier that with the consolidation the the Kimmel and also Philadelphia Orchestra under a solitary corporate umbrella, she would finish her tenure. The quasi-merger was finalized Thursday, and Ewers, the Kimmel’s longest-serving president and also CEO, was collection to pensioner Friday ~ 45 years in the arts sector.

“I have actually just loved this career, and all parts,” stated Ewers, 69, who concerned Philadelphia native Salt Lake City, where she had been president and also CEO that the Utah Symphony and also Opera. “I began as a singer, climate a director and also designer, then a producer, climate presenter, and also never have I looked earlier and said, ‘Gee, ns wish i was doing whatever.’ and I think that’s how I feel around retirement. I just knew as soon as I was ready and I was prepared to move on.”

She pipeline the Kimmel through a balanced budget (as the the finish of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.)


Ewers come in 2007, just six year after the Kimmel opened up its doors. Philadelphia had not been clamoring for an arts center. Rather, the $275 million facility at broad and Spruce to be conceived after years of the Philadelphia Orchestra struggling to develop support for a brand-new concert hall.

A team of public leaders bet the a bigger project folding with each other an orchestra hall and smaller concert venues would carry out a much better job that attracting funding, and it did. The center opened in December 2001, as residence to a handful of homegrown resides companies and with one ambitious datebook the visiting orchestras and high-profile soloists.

But even as Ewers to be interviewing for the job, consultants were being rental to diagnose its gaue won problems.The Kimmel was completing with few of its own resident companies for donors and also audiences, leader concluded, and also a new business arrangement was adopted. The Kimmel not only required the blame gone, but likewise required a bigger endowment. The would focus on Broadway reflects — and also the financially rewarding income castle can carry — and also jazz and a renowned mix, leaving classic music to others choose the Philadelphia Orchestra and also Philadelphia chamber Music Society.

What got reduced were the access time from the Vienna and Berlin philharmonics and major American ensembles, too as certain high-profile touring solo artists. Much more than a te later, Ewers claims she has no regrets.

“Well, I median my totality life is classical, right? but it to be so hard for the orchestra once we would have actually a guest orchestra in there that I in reality am relieved that we aren’t competing with what they space offering,” she says. “And now I am yes, really excited about the direction we’ve taken since we’ve uncovered a method to with a really broad and varied community, therefore that currently there is something for absolutely anyone at the Kimmel. I think world need to check out the Kimmel together their home. And a conference place, as a convening place. And they must feel like, ‘Gee, ns belong here and also there is something because that me.’ ”


That organization model hosted until recently. The quasi-merger place both the Kimmel and also the orchestra under a single parent company now top by orchestra president and also CEO Matías Tarnopolsky. Ewers watch the consolidation together the systems to a specific amount the friction and also competition that has actually existed between the 2 groups.

The Kimmel and also its groups have often jostled because that concert and rehearsal time in the halls. “Scheduling has always been such a struggle,” claims Ewers. Now, though, she cites a recent discussion over a nationwide choral conference wanting to come to Philadelphia for three days. “That would never have been possible, and now the orchestra is saying, ‘Hey, perhaps we have the right to go on tour for 3 days.’ It’s functioning together rather of working in conflict.”

Coordinated fund-raising is already happening, she says, so the as vast as possible an appeal deserve to be made once calls are being made to donors. A details donor who might not it is in interested in giving to education and diversity programs, because that instance, might be willing to offer to Academy of Music restoration, or evil versa.

The naming legal rights to Verizon Hall, for instance, expire in 2023, and also now, with the orchestra and also Kimmel operation as one, the prospects of resources a future namesake have brightened, claims Ewers.

“Many of the orchestra patrons are going come be much more interested in specify name Verizon or the stage in Verizon Hall 보다 anyone we would have had contact with, so ns think there is some an excellent potential there.”

In she time, Ewers looked after several makeovers to the complex, consisting of the change of the general public rooftop garden atop the Perelman right into a exclusive enclosed events an are that to produce rental income. She attracted support from charity Leonore Annenberg to launch the Philadelphia global Festival the the Arts, which showed up four times prior to it quiet disappeared.

“I would say it ran that is course. The was good for those years, yet we couldn’t uncover funds to sustain it,” stated Ewers.


She lugged in cook Jose Garces to run the restaurant and catering, and oversaw the purchase of the Merriam theater from the college of the Arts.

It’s the acquisition that points to several of Ewers’ unfinished business. In 2015, she collection out to offer naming civil liberties for various facets of the facility — with price sign for whatever from $100 million to put a surname on the entire center, every the means down to lot smaller items, such as naming rooms.

She had actually hoped to finish the entire campaign by 2020, yet no major donor or corporate entity has actually so far signed top top the dotted line.

A naming opportunity is central to resources much-need renovations at the Merriam Theater, who 1,800-seat dimension is ideal for many groups that can’t to fill the 2,500 seat of Verizon or 2,900 in the Academy that Music, but can sell an ext than the 600 or for this reason of the Perelman Theater.

“It’s got great bones, it simply needs work,” says Ewers that the Merriam, whose background includes Broadway tryouts, black color theater, and a wide range of music genres.

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Ewers might be stepping away from her everyday devotion come the Kimmel, but she i will not ~ be entirely shedding responsibility. After a couple of weeks off, she will go back to serve top top the all-volunteer board beginning in December. Lot work remains: an ext renovations and also fund-raising; widening appeal come traditionally underserved audiences; figuring out how to draw back audiences in COVID times; and the an extremely tall bespeak of figuring out exactly how the center once again changes the mission and also programming mix together it and the orchestra unify identities.

“I’ll be around,” claims Ewers, “probably much more for performances than I had actually time for before.”