School of Music and Dance lays off Bach Fest Director

Seems like odd timing, with the performances to start next week. Here’s the email sent to the faculty – no mention of lintgate:

Dear Friends,

I wanted to be the first to share with you the news that we’ve made the difficult decision to eliminate the executive director position at Oregon Bach Festival, due to university-wide budget reductions that were announced earlier this year.

As many of you know, university administrators asked the School of Music and Dance to reduce OBF’s budget by $250,000 (which amounts to around 9 percent of the festival’s overall budget for 2019), as part of a campus-wide initiative to trim $12 million in total university costs.

As dean, I was faced with a tough choice. I carefully weighed our options, and ultimately arrived at the conclusion that this was a necessary step in order for us to preserve as many critical OBF staff positions as possible and ensure the festival’s ongoing success.

We are saddened that Janelle McCoy will be leaving, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of her accomplishments as executive director. Since she started at the university, Janelle has been a prudent fiscal manager of the festival. Prior to her first year, OBF was operating with a deficit. The festival broke even within six months of her arrival, and has posted surpluses of up to six figures ever since. Cash reserves more than doubled during her tenure to over $1 million, and the festival’s total endowments grew to $15.6 million. Under her leadership, the 2018 Oregon Bach Festival featured eight sell-out concerts, and reached its yearly ticket sale revenue goal 10 days before opening night.

Janelle attracted musicians and projects to the festival that highlighted inclusion and fostered engagement across campus and the community. Her world premiere 2019 Bach in Motion collaboration between OBF, the University of Oregon Department of Dance and non-profit DanceAbility International was among the first projects to receive a grant from the UO Department of Equity and Inclusion, as well as state and national funding. Her 2018 commission from composer Richard Danielpour went on to be performed in Los Angeles and recorded by the Buffalo Philharmonic. Projects that Janelle has already planned for OBF’s 50th anniversary season in 2020 include a residency with Conspirare (Considering Matthew Shepard) and a commission by Paola Prestini (Hindsight), which will engage the community in discussions about hate crimes and the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women equal voting rights.

We are grateful to Janelle for her service, and thankful for the many memorable seasons of music that she played an important part in helping to create. I’m glad that she has agreed to stay on in her role throughout the 2019 festival. And we hope that you will join us next week, as we raise the curtain on another exciting season, and bid Janelle a fond farewell as a community united by our love of music.


Sabrina Madison-Cannon
Phyllis and Andrew Berwick Dean and Professor of Dance
School of Music and Dance

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46 Responses to School of Music and Dance lays off Bach Fest Director

  1. Yora Baggadix says:

    About time.

  2. Amy Adams says:

    Excellent news.
    I’m tremendously relieved on behalf of the festival.

    At least the search for the next artistic director can proceed without that glaring obstacle in the way. May they treat the next one better than they did Matthew Halls.

  3. I disagree with your first paragraph, timing is not odd at all. It allows OBF patrons to thank Janelle; it allows the festival season to go on with transparency.

    An excellent decision by dean Madison-Cannon.

    • Amy Adams says:

      I can’t imagine that the line to thank her will exactly stretch around the block, but perhaps I’ll be surprised.

      Everyone involved in the decision to fire Matthew Halls has now been removed from their jobs in one way or another: Jayanth Banavar, Doug Blandy, and now Janelle McCoy.

      I sincerely hope the Oregon Bach Festival has time to recover from its mistakes, and the search for an artistic director produces happy results.

    • BourgeoiSinger says:

      No. Timing is indeed odd. How does one properly thank someone who’s hubris near single-handedly destroyed a popular festival. Also, I don’t think transparency means what you think it does.

  4. Looking for transparency says:

    This one is a big one, but do you know where we can find out what positions have been cut in other schools, colleges, and units?

    • uomatters says:

      While Around the 0 posts a puff-piece when the administration hires an excellent new AVP for whatever, they seldom report unhirings. I rely on email leaks for this sort of info, so please keep them coming.

  5. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Reading how the Bach Festival has done under McCoy, at least fiscally, one has to wonder why she is being let go. She would seem to have made OBF a lot of money!

    Of course, some might say that the patrons of the Festival came to its rescue precisely as a show of support in the face of her dreadful, disastrous time there, as viewed by many.

    Nobody has ever been able to explain why she got rid of Halls, and why the UO admin went along with it. Even people one would think would be very well connected to know.

    As far as I can tell, only McCoy and Banavar, and possibly Schill, and just maybe Halls, know what happened — not what really happened, just what happened from each one’s own point of view.

    The OBF is a much different entity than it was back just six or eight years ago. To me, much diminished. But I’m glad to see that it has survived and goes on.

    Perhaps it would be better off if it could be completely independent of UO — which seems to have been a bungler for quite a few years now. Not just in the McCoy years, but going all the way back to when Rilling called it a day.

    Anyhow, maybe it’s better if everyone puts the best face on things for a while longer.

    • ^OBF says:

      OBF does seem to be a shadow of what it once was… Way Bach I looked forward to the lineup, now… meh. Perhaps it should move to Portland and PSU, get more of those big city donors? Isn’t everything in higher ed now about donors… and coaches? (Yes, there was a hint of sarcasm)

  6. Marc says:

    From Christian Hill’s article in the Register Guard this morning:

    Asked if her role in that situation was a factor in the loss of her job, McCoy responded, “As far as I know, (and) from what I’ve been told it’s only related to budget. I think I’d rather believe that.”

    “McCoy expressed confidence that the festival will continue after her departure. But she noted it would be wise for the festival to start discussions with the city of Eugene, another university or the state about how it could support the program.”

    Verbum sapientibus.

  7. Deplorable Duck says:

    The EW story in the “lintgate” post is now at .

  8. From the Trenches says:

    The university made all the staff at OBF sign NDAs, so they are legally not allowed to explain Matthew Halls firing. As someone who had to sign the NDA- I will tell you now, Matthew Halls firing was of his own making, and Janelle has been unfairly maligned by this community.

  9. uomatters says:

    I know two people who say they know what happened and who signed NDAs. One hints that whatever happened was far worse than what was in the papers: “Of course I can’t tell you, but it was really bad” or some weaselly words to that effect. The other hints that it was blown way out of proportion, to get rid of Hall: “There was a little more to it than the lint, but not much”. They do agree that JH handled it with the usual incompetence, though they blame different people, and agree that Banavar did nothing but take one for the team.

  10. From the Trenches says:

    An NDA is not a gag order. I can say that I agree with the university’s decision to fire Halls. Of course, I cannot go into the reasons why because that would constitute “disparagement” of Halls, which is prohibited by the NDA.

    I think it’s laughable that people are posting links to Eugene Weekly articles on the subject. Not a single one of Bob Keefer’s articles gets it right. NOT ONE. He just keeps pushing out bad information.

    Can you imagine a world in which you do not have access to the information you need to assert an informed opinion on this subject? You’re living in it, so you might want to hold back your judgement. One day, the truth will get out, and I’m sorry to say you’ll be on the wrong side of it.

    Finally, as someone who has actually worked with Janelle, “incompetent” is about as far away as it gets in describing her. You might as well call her a “nasty woman.”

    • Amy Adams says:

      Trenches, sometimes the optics of a thing are in fact how the thing really is. You don’t actually specify which part of Keefer’s information is “bad.”

      McCoy has availed herself of the tool of confidentiality to insinuate things about Halls – and they don’t stick. People still like, admire and respect him. That’s essentially what you’ve done in this comment here – you’ve insinuated his negative behavior, inviting readers to imagine the worst, without actually saying anything.

      McCoy’s competence issues are known. Those who have confidence in her leadership abilities can be counted on one hand. And the fact is that the festival is headed precisely in the opposite direction which she announced in August 2017 (in the widely derided “guest curators” press release.)

      Hopefully it’s not too late for OBF.

    • Yora Baggadix says:

      I read through every document that was posted by both EW and the RG. I also witnessed one of the situations in which a complaint was made.

      Is MH a saint? Hell no. No one is. But the situation as I watched it unfurl throughout JM’s tenure displayed a stark contrast between her and MH in terms of their goals. With MH, it was about the festival. I never heard MH speak about his own career unless it was to tie into something about the festival.

      With JM, it was about herself. She talked about herself constantly to the artists. What she had done, her singing career, etc. So many sentences started with “I” and not with “The festival.”

  11. Carla Philippa Emmeline says:

    And I struggle to remember a time when she didn’t act professionally. Nor am I familiar with a time when the Provost took one for the team.

    I don’t know when it makes sense to cut a revenue generating position. AD applicants were already spooked by the cuts announcement and now more spooked by the prospect of an Administration that clearly has no respect for the arts.

    • Amy Adams says:

      I don’t know what the evidence is that her position “generated revenue.” This festival’s finances are opaque and shrouded in mystery.
      As to the AD applicants, it’s just as possible some were put off by the thought of working alongside someone reputed to be hostile.

    • Deplorable Duck says:

      With respect to the question of professionalism, the “lintgate” photo appears to provide a conclusive answer. If McCoy took that picture or even just passed it around, that’s unprofessional, and in a way that matters.

      Try to envision Schill, Phillips, or Banavar doing such a thing. I cannot.

      There is no amount of money that could induce me to work with such a person, much less for them.

      • Amy Adams says:

        She behaved similarly to another OBF employee, which Bob reported on a while back.

        • Katharine says:

          Interesting that a public records request was never made on that one. There were other witnesses to that contractor’s behavior, and those witnesses do not back her story. Of course, EW hasn’t been interested in the truth for some time, particularly after they let go of the few remaining journalists that challenged the editor on facts– it’s nothing more than a gossip rag and pot ads.

          • honest Uncle Bernie says:

            Have to wonder, why didn’t those “other witnesses” come forth with their story?

          • Amy Adams says:

            Katharine, this is an interesting comment. Are you sure no one requested public records pertaining to the Linda Ackerman story? You say there were “other witnesses to” her behavior, but don’t cite any. The information gathered on Linda was shown to be literally falsified.

            This actually is an example of good reporting and fact-gathering by Eugene Weekly. It’s understandable that anyone shown in an unflattering light would think differently and dismiss it as a gossip rag.

            Linda had, and still has, an unblemished reputation for professionalism and competence. She was attacked and fired by someone who has a reputation for the opposite.

            • Bach1685 says:

              The McCoy/Halls Affair was covered by both EW and the RG. Both sought and received records from the UO. Blaming McCoy’s troubles on one journalist doesn’t wash. That said, relentless efforts by EW’s Bob Keefer set the coverage in motion.

          • Bob Keefer says:

            Katharine: I made an extensive public records request for documents in that case, including for all correspondence about her termination. I received a copy of her four-page boilerplate contract. Everything else was denied by the UO.

            • Katharine says:

              If that’s true, and I don’t see evidence that it is from the log, then I would ask myself what is UO’s attorneys trying to hide? More defamation?

              And since when does someone publish without verification?

              They knew there were witnesses and had their statements. As to why they haven’t come forward, who wants to be trolled on this site when the truth is presented? Every person that posts an opinion outside of the outrageous is shouted down.

              UO and the dean have a lot to gain from the dissection of OBF, a huge endowment, a new recital building, and armor against future GF cuts

              • Bach1685 says:

                How could any journalist present McCoy’s side when she and the UO refused comment on everything? I also wonder why none of McCoy’s supporters haven’t written opinion pieces about these matters.

                • Entrenched says:

                  How is someone supposed to comment when you’re under a gag order and your job is threatened?

                  Anyone with a different side on here gets labeled as the person who is accused. The point being is no one is interested in the truth. Only false rumors that are repeated by blogs. I guess the truth is too boring to sell ads.

              • Amy Adams says:

                “Katharine” – the more you comment, the more you appear to be a specific stakeholder in this whole affair, or maybe related to her?

                Everything that Bob reported regarding the Ackerman firing was verified. The more you insinuate about that event, the more you sound like you were personally involved in it.
                Again: Linda Ackerman has a reputation for competence, professionalism, grace and honesty, and there actually ARE witnesses of that.

                OBF isn’t being “dissected,” and I can’t imagine who would think it is (other than someone whose job is being cut, not being critical to its operation.) One expensive position is being eliminated.

                Coherent artistic direction at the festival is what’s critical.
                They had it before – perhaps they’ll get lucky again.

  12. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    I haven’t been a fan of Janelle McCoy, for reasons that there is no need to go into, but it is hard to make sense of this. According to the Music dean, the Festival seemed to be doing well, or at least better, financially. What are they going to do without an executive director? Maybe the Dean will be at the top, as was the case with the previous Dean after the Music School took over post-Halls. But still, someone has to be doing the day-to-day running of things, and the Dean, must have plenty else to do (for which she is well paid, by the way).

    I wonder if they’re planning to cut OBF completely loose in the near future. That would fit with McCoy’s remarks about OBF looking to partner with another university — Portland State? — or the City of Eugene — not likely! — or the State — hah!

    Maybe OBF would be better off completely independent, as far as that is possible. To whom does the considerable endowment belong? Who is on the hook for what, if anything, for the Berwick building?

    The OBF advisory committee certainly must have people thinking about these things.

  13. No Name At All says:

    I was not made to sign a NDA, but I know someone who was and blabbed anyway. When the situation was explained to me, I completely understood why Halls was fired. I’ll just say that the reasons are not completely unrelated to #metoo. Don’t know if this is objectionable to publish — if so, you will understand why everyone else remains in the dark about the reasons.

    • uomatters says:

      It’s too bad that there is no one in the UO administration that people can believe about things like this. Someone who could say “We cancelled his/her/this contract/job/program for reasons that were significant, but will remain confidential. We investigated this thoroughly, and I believe we made the right decision. Trust me.”

      But here is no such person. They’ve all burned us over and over again. So you’re stuck with rumors, and I’m stuck editing this damn blog.

  14. Marc says:

    I only visit here when OBF nonsense happens or someone dons blackface etc etc but as someone who lives in Eugene (& despises the monetization of college sports) I ought to read regularly. Thank you for “this damn blog”.

    • Sun Tzu says:

      The original premise of “this damn blog” was to improve transparency and shine a bright light on the many of the incredibly poor, back room decisions at UO. The blog’s author did an outstanding job of uncovering and publishing information that administrators in JH and elsewhere obviously did not want anyone to know. Interestingly, UOM became both hated and a must read by all in JH. Kudos to Bill for filling a much needed info gap.

      Sadly UOM now contains some true info mixed with conjecture, false inferences, faulty commentary, outright bias and some blatant untruths. As a result, “this damn blog” has lost its credibility and in so doing has become the UO version of the National Enquirer. Yes, I know it’s a “blog” however it was at one time relevant and honest. Now not so much. Wish it wasn’t so because at one time it filled an important role in our community and that need still exists.

  15. Dog says:

    come on man, this blog is still incredibly important, look how much traffic results when anything related to OBF is posted, that is clearly of more interest than our athletic shenanigans, our academic shenanigans, and our JH shenanigans – combined …

    • uomatters says:

      Thanks, how about starting a Godel thread?

      • Dog says:

        only in the context of whether Godel’s incompleteness theorem
        is the fundamental limitation in our desire to create AI robot’s to be presidents of Universities or even country’s; our country’s president is currently a DI creation (DI = demonstrable incompetence).

        • Deplorable Duck says:

          Probably better not to bring up the subject of competence, lest thoughts drift to Trump’s opponent, and then to unanswerable questions about why she thought that passing top secret national security material through a home-brew server in her basement was a good idea. Or the political competence of publicly labeling half the country as “deplorable”. Smooth move.

          That said, I’m looking forward to the Democrats nominating an actually competent candidate this time around. My vote is available.

  16. JH Expat says:

    12 OA’s and 6 classified
    Hardly 12 million in cuts as reported

    • New Year Cat says:

      One is too many. This is a university, not a sports franchise, and cuts should have been made as if it were. Most of our students are not athletes and do not need expensive athletic coaches, they need the far cheaper faculty of the discipline they came here to study, and the staff that feeds them, cleans the buildings, records their grades, etc.

    • CMD says:

      A 535k cut in library personnel was the number. Two or three were laid off on 6/20/19 from the library. The rest was made up there through attrition as staff left/retired this year.

  17. New Year Cat says:

    I can tell you the library was already understaffed. Staffing and morale are much lower than they already were, from what I hear, as people who were not laid off take the opportunity to go elsewhere. The Libraries will be down nearly a dozen people by the end of the fall and not many of them will be replaced. So in addition to the impact it has on your life if you are one of the “two or three” people laid off, the impact on services will be felt as either something will be dropped that you cared about or something will happen much slower as people struggle to cover what used to not be their job. Expect the same from Oregon Hall as I hear.

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