Michael Greer, who became the executive director of Oregon Ballet Theatre in 2017, will leave his post at the end of May to head up ArtsFund, a grant-making nonprofit based in Seattle. Under Greer's three-season leadership (he took over for Dennis Buehler, who held the post from 2014), OBT hit record-high ticket revenues. The company announced his departure Wednesday afternoon.
"Michael's a tremendous talent, so I guess I knew when we hired him that he wasn't going to be here for ten years," says OBT artistic director Kevin Irving, who learned of Greer's new position just over a week ago. "I'm happy for him and his family, and I realize that it's a great opportunity for him."
Greer came to OBT after a stint in the other Portland heading up operations at Maine's Portland Ballet. A former professional dancer with Utah's Ballet West, Greer's position with ArtsFund represents a pivot back to nonprofit work after an executive career that's spanned both the for- and nonprofit sectors.
In Greer's absence, Irving will split ED duties with OBT development director Gregory Smith. While he anticipates a "competitive, multi-national" search for Greer's replacement, Irving says there are no immediate plans to hire someone while the coronavirus pandemic unfolds.
Of the city's large arts organizations, OBT has possibly fared the best during the crisis—they've laid off a small number of part-time employees but managed to keep on their entire company of dancers, even as other giants like the Oregon Symphony have been forced to furlough huge swaths of artists.
"Obviously the state of the pandemic is going to make the most impact on whether or not we can perform," Irving says, "but we are absolutely hoping that by early June, we’ll be able to gather again, and we hope that people are hungry and thirsty for the distinctly unique experience of sharing live performance."