Michael M. Kaiser has been President of the Kennedy Center since January 2001. He has expanded the educational and artistic programming for the nation’s center for the performing arts, has overseen a major renovation effort of most of the Center’s theaters and has led the country in arts management training.
Signature artistic programs during his tenure have included an unprecedented celebration of the works of Stephen Sondheim; major festivals of the arts of China, Japan, India and the 22 countries in the Arab World; long-term relationships with the Bolshoi Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet and Opera, New York City Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; festivals of gospel, country, a cappella music and street arts; a celebration of August Wilson’s ten plays presented in sequential order; as well as major revival productions of Ragtime and Follies, both which transferred to Broadway. Mr. Kaiser also works closely with the National Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director Christoph Eschenbach and its Board of Directors on the Orchestra’s performances and outreach programs as well as with Washington National Opera’s leadership on WNO’s performance and educational programs.
In 2001, Mr. Kaiser created the Kennedy Center Arts Management Institute, renamed the DeVos Institute of Arts Management in May 2010 following a $22.5 million commitment from Dick and Betsy DeVos, to provide advanced training for arts administrators at varying stages of development and has created a series of programs to help train others in the field. Since its inception, the DeVos Institute has advised thousands of individuals, organizations, governments, and foundations throughout the United States and in more than 80 countries on six continents. The Institute’s programs include capacity building programs which have served more than 600 organizations in cities across the United States, regional and national initiatives which focus on board development, nine-month and summer fellowships for both American and foreign arts leaders as well as internships and other personalized training tailored to a variety of arts organizations around the world. He has created artsmanager.org, a website that provides resources to arts managers around the world.
In February 2009, he created Arts in Crisis: A Kennedy Center Initiative, a program which provided free arts management consulting to non-profit performing arts organizations around the United States. Mr. Kaiser embarked on a national tour for the Arts in Crisis initiative, leading arts management symposia in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia through July 2010.
In October 2009, Mr. Kaiser launched Any Given Child, an initiative that works with school systems, local governments, and arts organizations to create localized, long-range arts education plans for students grades K-8 with the goal of ensuring that all young people in the community have access to a complete, affordable arts education.
Mr. Kaiser previously served as the Executive Director of the Royal Opera House, the largest performing arts organization in the United Kingdom. During his tenure with the Royal Opera House, that organization erased its historic accumulated deficit, completed a £214 million redevelopment of the facility, created an endowment fund, and greatly increased its level of support from the private and public sectors.
Prior to joining the Royal Opera House, Mr. Kaiser was Executive Director of American Ballet Theatre. During his three-year tenure at American Ballet Theatre, Mr. Kaiser erased the entire historic accumulated deficit, created a second company, greatly expanded national and international touring activity, substantially increased both contributed and earned income, and built an acclaimed series of education programs.
Mr. Kaiser has also served as Executive Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Foundation, the world’s largest modern dance organization. During his tenure, the Ailey Company erased its accumulated deficit, expanded its school, and increased all forms of revenue. He has also served as General Manager of the Kansas City Ballet, where he also erased the company’s deficit.
As an arts management consultant, Mr. Kaiser has advised such institutions as The Jewish Museum, the Market Theatre (Johannesburg), Detroit Symphony, Glimmerglass Opera, New York City Opera, and many others. He also represented the United States on a commission that established the Arts Council of the Republic of South Africa.
Before entering the arts management field, Mr. Kaiser was a management consultant in the corporate sector. In 1985, he sold the consulting firm he founded, Kaiser Associates, which specializes in helping large corporations formulate strategic plans. Among his clients were General Motors, IBM, Corning Glass Works and 50 other major corporations. Kaiser Associates remains a major participant in the strategy-consulting field.
Mr. Kaiser has served as a research economist for Nobel Prize-winning economist, Wassily Leontief, and is the author of six books: Conversation Starters: Arts Management Topics for Today (2011); Leading Roles: 50 Questions Every Arts Board Should Ask (2010); The Art of the Turnaround (2008); Strategic Planning in the Arts: A Practical Guide (1995); Developing Industry Strategies: A Practical Guide of Industry Analysis (1983); and Understanding the Competition: A Practical Guide of Competitive Analysis (1981). He writes a weekly column for the Huffington Post.
Mr. Kaiser received his Master’s degree in management from M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management and his Bachelor’s degree in economics magna cum laude, from Brandeis University. He has been an Adjunct Professor of Arts Administration at New York University, and a Lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
He received the Dance Magazine Award in 2001, Capezio Award in 2002, Helen Hayes Washington Post Award for Innovative Leadership in the Theater Community in 2003, the St. Petersburg 300 Medal in 2004, Washingtonian of the Year in 2004, a U.S. Department of State Citation in 2005, the Blacks in Dance Award in 2005, and was the first American to receive China’s “Award for Cultural Exchange” in 2005. He was awarded The Order of the Mexican Eagle in 2006 and was named Impresario of the Year in 2006 by Musical America. In 2009, Mr. Kaiser received the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America and the Kahlil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Award from the Arab American Institute Foundation. In March 2011, Georgetown University conferred him with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.