By Adam Aasen
Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, President and CEO of The Center for the Performing Arts, announced on Aug. 4 that she’s leaving Carmel in order to accept a new job opportunity in Chicago.
According to a press release issued by the CFTPA, during her four years at the helm, she financially stabilized the city-subsidized nonprofit and has been able to operate in the black for the three previous years along with increasing its donor base.
Moskalenko has accepted the job as CEO of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago, and said she and her family plan to move by Labor Day weekend so their children can start at their new schools.
Jeff McDermott, a partner at Krieg DeVault LLP and Chairman of the Board of the Great American Songbook Foundation, has agreed to serve as interim president but indicated he’s not looking to fill the role permanently.
McDermott will remain as a partner at Krieg DeVault while a nationwide search is underway to find Moskalenko’s replacement. No timeline has been set for a permanent replacement.
‘Tania has been very good for the Center’
The Cuban-born arts administrator came to Carmel in June 2012 after serving as executive director of the Germantown Performing Arts Centre in Tennessee. During her time there, she erased an operating deficit, created a reserve fund, doubled corporate support and quadrupled grant support.
Moskalenko is known for being numbers-savvy and she is responsible for the launch of a market study for the CFTPA. She analyzed weaknesses and market opportunities and during her tenure, individual donations increased 95 percent and corporate support by 66 percent.
“It really is amazing everything that Tania has done for the Center and really our city,” McDermott said.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said it’s not always easy to work within the framework of a municipally-owned venue, but Moskalenko was able to help the center through the more difficult early years.
“Tania has been very good for the Center,” he said. “She’s had a balanced budget and brought in artists and raised money.”
Moskalenko not only brought in big name acts to perform, but she built up the CFTPA’s offerings beyond shows, including educational opportunities for children and public events. The Palladium became a space for weddings, nonprofit meetings, movie screenings and even a book club.
“I see the Palladium as Carmel’s living room,” she said.
Moskalenko’s husband, Alexei Moskalenko, was just named associate artistic director of Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious international student dance competition.
For the next CEO, one goal will be to expand The Great American Songbook Foundation, a connected nonprofit founded by Michael Feinstein, Grammy-nominated singer and artistic director for the CFTPA. According to Brainard, the ultimate goal is to build a multi-million dollar freestanding building for a Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Museum.
Presently, the Great American Songbook Foundation has a reference library, listening rooms, archival storage and an exhibit space located inside The Palladium, called the Songbook Exhibit Gallery. The nonprofit also hosts a vocal competition at The Palladium, at the annual Songbook Academy.
Shortly before Moskalenko accepted her new job this year, the combined boards of both the CFTPA and the Foundation met to discuss a strategic vision for the organizations.
McDermott said a task force will soon come together to discuss the next steps, but that preliminary plans are underway for what a Songbook museum could look like.
“I think that would really make Carmel even more known as the home of the Great American Songbook,” he said.
Moskalenko said the museum has long been in the works but there were other financial priorities.
“From the very beginning it’s always been the plan, but we haven’t talked about it much during the past few years as we’ve been stabilizing the center financially,” she said.
Brainard said that a museum could cost more than $7 million and would likely be paid for through an endowment, but plans are preliminary.
Brainard said it could be located where the Windsor building has been proposed for the Carmel City Center Phase 2. This would be east of The Palladium, across the Monon Trail from the Center Green. He said it could be a tourist attraction for tens of thousands of visitors a year and could attract donations and grants nationwide since it would be one of a kind.
McDermott supports the idea for the museum.
“While that’s our goal, we do have to be good stewards of the Center’s money and prudent financially so we are convening to see what might be possible,” he said.