The Influentials: Gary Hanson

Executive director, The Cleveland Orchestra

With falling attendance, fewer donors and an operating budget in the red for half a decade, the Cleveland Orchestra considered scaling back and giving up its among-the-best-in-the-world status. But in 2004, Gary Hanson helped convince enough folks with big wallets to commit one-time gifts to an aggressive turnaround plan. Part of that plan is to turn touring — historically a money-losing venture, but necessary for maintaining prestige — into a break-even proposition through residency programs like the one established in Miami. Though there have been struggles, the methodical Hanson is working to sustain a world-class institution in a city that is a fraction of the size of other top-orchestra cities. “We have a plan for growing, even though our home is a city where economic growth lags behind the rest of the country,” Hanson says. An asset to this year’s playlist: a prestigious appointment at the Salzburg Festival in Austria.

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