FORT WAYNE — The Fort Wayne Philharmonic today announced that James W. Palermo has been engaged as managing director, to commence immediately. Earlier this year, the Philharmonic Board engaged Arts Consulting Group to lead a national search for an executive director, as well as to provide interim leadership during the transition.
Arts Consulting Group placed Palermo, a nationally recognized 27-year veteran of orchestra management, to lead the organization as interim executive director. During this transitional period, Palermo worked with the board to create and implement a decisive plan to retool fundraising and marketing programs while repositioning the institution’s finances.
“Jim has made a significant impact as interim executive director in a very short period of time, so it felt natural to ask him to extend his commitment as managing director to continue the transformational work he has begun,” said Ben Eisbart, Chair of the Search Committee and Board Chair. “He has helped us face long standing challenges in a deliberative, thoughtful and measured manner and already we are poised more strongly for a bright future.”
“I’ve enjoyed working with everyone to unite around the musicians and the music, and look forward to crafting a new, vibrant direction for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic,” said James W. Palermo.
Said Music Director Andrew Constantine, “Working with Jim Palermo has been the inspirational challenge it ought to be for every music director. His vast experience, clear thinking and energy have caused us all to ‘up our game’, and recognize our potential so much more. He has enabled us to look at ourselves with clearer objectivity and help the Philharmonic to its next and essential stage of development.”
Most recently Palermo served as president and executive director of Colorado’s Bravo! Vail Festival, after which he returned to the Midwest to be near family. Earlier in his career, Palermo served as artistic and general director of Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival, where he played a key role in the development of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the festival’s permanent home since 2004.
He developed partnerships with arts and cultural organizations throughout the city and secured sponsorships from leading foundations and corporations. Since Grant Park concerts are free to the public, Palermo developed a membership program to generate significant earned revenue in support of festival activities.
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic has an extraordinary 72-year history in the community. With a core of more than 40 full-time musicians, the orchestra is the largest performing arts institution in northeast Indiana, presenting Masterworks, Pops, Family, and other concerts, plus hundreds of free or radically reduced-cost ensemble, chamber music, chamber orchestra and community engagement performances, all year long.