Cincinnati Ballet endures second major leadership change in week

Just days after a mutual separation with its artistic director, the Cincinnati Ballet is announcing its longtime president and chief executive officer is leaving to take another position.

The news of the departure of Scott Altman came to light Thursday afternoon.

Altman, who joined Cincinnati Ballet in August 2016, is taking over the same role for the Los Angeles Master Chorale in January 2024.

“After seven and a half years as leader of this remarkable Company, I feel confident in the stability of Cincinnati Ballet,” said Altman, who called this a “good point” to hand over leadership of the company and pursue the “next phase of (his) own journey.”

“I want to thank the amazing Cincinnati Ballet team for their dedication, innovation and creativity,” he added.

President and CEO Scott Altman set to leave at end of 2023.

The Cincinnati Ballet reached several major milestones during Altman’s tenure. That includes constructing the 62,000 square foot, $32 million Cincinnati Ballet Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance in Walnut Hills.

Under Altman’s watch, the company also set records for ticket sales, oversaw the creation of a new Cincinnati Ballet logo and brand identity, and helped the organization more than triple its assets to $75 million.

Joel Stone, chair of the ballet’s board of trustees, thanked Altman for his leadership during what he described as a period of monumental growth and transformation for the organization.

“From the construction of an iconic new home to the implementation of record-setting operating budgets, Scott had led Cincinnati Ballet to unprecedented new heights,” Stone said. “We wish (Altman) well in the future.”

The Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance
The Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance

The move is the second major leadership change for the Cincinnati Ballet in the past two weeks. On Sept. 22, artistic director Jodie Gates citied a desire to pursue new opportunities for leaving her position just a few days into the ballet’s new and 60th season. Both Gates and Stone described the situation as mutual.

Stone stressed that there won’t be much internal discord during Altman’s transition period. That belief is due in no small part to Altman’s plan to remain with the organization through the end of the calendar year. Altman emphasized a desire for what he called a “smooth transition” of power.

Once Altman leaves in January, Cincinnati Ballet Foundation Chair Deborah Brant will take over as interim president and CEO while the ballet’s board searches for a permanent replacement. 

Brant, a former ballet board member, led the capital campaign committee to secure funding for its new dancer center.

As interim CEO, she’ll oversee a 2024-2025 approved budget of $13.1 million and an endowment balance of nearly $15 million. The Cincinnati Ballet has 39 total dancers on its roster this season, including 29 in its main company.

Stone described the ascension of Brant into the interim CEO role as a “natural step” for both herself and the organization.

Debbie Brant, Volunteer of the Year
Debbie Brant will take over as interim president and CEO in January.
(photo by Tina Gutierrez for Movers & Makers)

Over the past few years, Brant has fostered a “deep and meaningful relationship with Cincinnati Ballet and has been one of the organization’s biggest supporters,” Stone added. 

Altman went on to praise the board for the selection of Brant as his temporary successor. He referred to Brant as a “thoughtful and capable leader” with a “passion for the art form.”

Over the next three months, Brant plans to work side-by-side with Altman, the Cincinnati Ballet board, and members of the administrative and artistic teams to learn how to “best support this incredible company,” she said.

“I am honored that the Board has chosen me to steward Cincinnati Ballet,” Brant added.

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