I blanked out most of the proper names used below and left out some of the nitty-gritty details because it was originally intended for a small group. I didn't think it appropriate to air too much of the laundry.
Hey gang -- I think I owe an explanation, or at least a description, of my perspective regarding the CMC future. XXX has rightly identified some items we need to address (contact, communication, etc.) but the perceived "crunchiness" of these issues isn't as acute as you might imagine. If I had to describe my 'mission in life' (beyond the obvious family stuff), it would revolve around the notion of changing how people situate themselves in society. In particular I'd like to be rid of our cultural concept of God-artist... too many proto-Wagners makes for a really *bad* world, in my opinion. Studying with Jim Randall at Princeton, I saw that it was possible to find or coalesce a group of individuals who can instantiate an alternative model of a working artist-society. So when we first started a computer-music group at Columbia, we actively sought to promote this kind of sharing, supportive community. By and large it worked, too. But then real life intervened. When XXX left and we took total control of the EMC, things were in pretty bad shape. Our budget was ridiculous, and for the first time people -- friends' -- *lives* depended on it. XXX moved out to NYC pretty much "on spec"; he didn't get paid for about 6 months (some things never change at Columbia...). XXX started working at the CMC the following year, for about $XXX total yearly salary, and he was in serious danger of being deported. It's just wonderful to have grandiose ideas about reshaping society and culture, but if people can't pay the rent then it's all, well, academic. Our first order of business was then to grow the CMC as quickly and dramatically as we could. And we did! We were successful beyond our imaginings. We did so well that at some point I started imagining "Vee could take over Zee Vorld". The trajectory of Bigger/More$$$/Bigger/ More$$$ was set. The initial charge to XXX, to make us BIGGER and MORE FAMOUS came from that context. It was also being driven by circumstances with the XXX Foundation and the School of the Arts. XXX had been hinting broadly about a substantial sum of money for the CMC if we were able to show the BIGGER-ness and MORE FAMOUS-ness with the XXX Project. SoA looked like it was to become the next "happenin' thang" at Columbia, and if we could insinuate ourselves there with BIG FAMOUS money, then we'd be just happy happy happy for the rest of our lives. You can see where this is leading, right? It's the typical morality tale of fame and fortune in our culture: the quest for ultimate success can wind up destroying the very thing you sought that led to the success. In the past few weeks, I was able to see the face of the future of the CMC if we continued to pursue growth for its own sake -- the promised XXX money had major strings attached that would have demolished the creative and energizing environment we have at the CMC, and the grass that looked mighty green over at SoA is starting to appear a little brown at the roots. Where does this leave us? Financially, we're still in great shape (like I said, we were successful beyond our imaginings). At some point in the indefinite future, we may not be. BUT I'm willing to gamble that the instincts that got us to this point -- promoting the "CMC culture", continuing to do projects that interest us and our students/researchers -- will lead to more opportunities in the future. More pragmatically, this means that we should no longer feel the pressure to achieve great fame, etc. but should instead take a step back and think about what we would really LIKE to do. What an amazing position to be in! XXX, this is the short answer to XXX -- I'm not sure we even need or want a major publicity effort for any projects we dream up primarily to GET publicity... so any subtle pressure she might feel to adopt the CMC as a client should be completely taken off the table. However, I still believe her presence at the CMC is a good one for a host of different reasons, and XXX said she is a talented and motivated creator -- the kind of person we do want at the CMC. I'll write to XXX and tell her this along with the reasons I would like for her to stay engaged with us. If she feels she wants to keep it 'professional', there is a mechanism (School of General Studies) that would allow her to pay for a special-projects class and not feel she was taking advantage of anyone at the CMC. So let's put on our thinking caps and do some nifty stuff! XXX is correct, we need to have some regularly-scheduled meetings to accomplish this. My time constraints are a bit freer this spring, so a bi-monthly monday meeting is probably a good idea (the CMC staff meetings on wednesdays have been terrific for keeping things together). We have some minor staff bumps to face in the coming months, but by and large we are in great shape. I want to hold a "CMC day" again shortly after the holidays, so we can hash out some more firm plans at that point. Finally, I think I should take a large amount of the blame for some of the disorganizational angst you all feel. Going after our grants while simultaneously maintaining the free and open culture of the CMC put me increasingly into untenable situations (you guys have no idea...), and I really started to feel pretty shitty about my own work. Unfortunately, my response in situations like this is to set myself up for failure, and several times recently I was pretty close to a major meltdown. Obviously I've been going through some kind of crisis in the past year or so, and to be honest it still continues. Please don't let my periodic disengagements from life affect your perception of how the CMC is "doing". It's "doing" great! See you all tomorrow -- brad