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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Opera chief goes to Washington
Michael Kaiser
Michael Kaiser starts new job early in the new year
Outgoing chief executive of London's Royal Opera House Michael Kaiser has been named as the new head of Washington's top arts venue, the Kennedy Center.

Mr Kaiser, 47, resigned from the Royal Opera in June after 18 months in the job, during which he was credited with turning around the venue's ailing fortunes.

The American will take up his new post as the Kennedy Center's president on 1 February, replacing Lawrence J Wilker who announced his departure in April.

He brings with him such an impressive track record of giving extraordinary stability to arts organisation

Placido Domingo on Michael Kaiser

Kaiser's first and immediate challenge will be to take over control of a refurbishment and fundraising programme underway at the centre, which stages music and plays of all kinds.

In a statement released to announce his appointment, Kaiser said he was "honoured to be asked to take this leadership".

He added: "I look forward to working with the artists, staff and trustees of the Kennedy Center to build the local, national and international contributions of this remarkable institution."

The Kennedy Center is in the midst of $170m (113m) worth of improvements. This has also involved raising $100m (66m), of which $70m (46m) has already been secured.

The centre's chairman, James Johnson, welcomed Kaiser's appointment.

"Michael is an internationally acclaimed arts manager with a true passion for the performing arts. He is ideally suited for the Kennedy Center,'' he said.

Track record

Kaiser announced in June his decision to leave the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden - home to both the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet - citing personal reasons.

In his time in the job, he saw the opera house through a troubled 214m refurbishment, a change of image and he secured extra funding for the cash-strapped venue.

He was appointed in November 1998 from the American Ballet Theatre where he cleared the venue's debts and increased income.

Placido Domingo
Domingo believes Kaiser will bring stabililty

During his career, Kaiser was also head of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Foundation, the world's largest modern dance organisation.

He has had experience with the Washington Opera, which performs at the Kennedy Center, and with the Kansas City Ballet of Missouri.

He has also represented the US on a commission recommending arts funding policies to the new government in South Africa and written books on the subject.

Acclaimed opera singer Placido Domingo, who is also artistic director of the Washington Opera, said he was thrilled at Kaiser's appointment.

"The news is indeed exciting. He brings with him such an impressive track record of giving extraordinary stability to arts organisations," Domingo said.

The Kennedy Center is named after assassinated US president John F Kennedy.

It houses eight theatres and offers music, dance and theatre from around the world.

Basic improvements are being made to the centre's opera house which may become the permanent home of the Washington Opera.

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17 Sep 98 | Entertainment
New boss at Opera House
19 Jun 00 | UK
Opera House boss quits
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