Meet Interlochen's New Leader
Trey Devey has been visiting the Interlochen area since he was two weeks old. Next summer when he arrives he’ll be staying for good. Devey is the new president of Interlochen Center for the Arts, hired after an international search for a successor to Jeffrey Kimpton, who is retiring after 14 years. Devey comes to Interlochen from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, where he led a remarkable turnaround The New York Times hailed as a “crescendo.” Devey will arrive in Interlochen on June 12. He talked in a local exclusive to The Ticker about his experiences in Cincinnati, how his father’s advice drives his leadership style, and what challenges he sees ahead.
Ticker: The Cincinnati experience was well documented in the orchestra world; a shrinking endowment and performance schedule, layoffs, out of cash, a bad economy…and then you were able woo a major donor, renegotiate with the musicians’ union and bring back the musicians, restore the schedule, and grow the endowment. It had to be quite an experience on the inside.
Devey: It was an interesting time for sure. I started January 6, 2009, so we were really in a tough spot with the economy in general. My first day on the job was a negotiation with musicians, and we were facing a $6.5 million structural deficit, the institution had used a number of one-time sources of revenue, and was drawing down their endowment at about ten percent. It was a real existential question, to be quite honest. ‘Are we [Cincinnati] up for sustaining a world class orchestra?’ Fortunately the answer was yes. We negotiated a budget stabilization plan, cut several million out of the operating budget, and that was mostly out of people and compensation. But that was done collaboratively, and sometimes that’s not the case. To me it was a signal of the quality of the culture in Cincinnati; we got it done amicably and we used it as a platform to energize the community. We started to chip away at some of the funding needs and that basically paved the way to an $85 million contribution in late 2009 from one of the major supporters who wanted to see us work cooperatively. At the core of all of it was a really great team; there were a lot of people who had their fingerprints on this. more