Berkeley Haas Case Series

Case Information

Deborah Cullinan and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Callanan, Laura , Jane Wei-Skillern, and Amy O' Callaghan
Publication date: 9/15/2014, pages 1-24

The case study describes the work of Deborah Cullinan during her tenure as executive director of Intersection for the Arts and in her new role as executive director of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA). The case begins as Cullinan is conducting a strategic refresh of YBCA, and deciding how to navigate an array of opportunities and challenges. Some of the challenges include staff fatigue resulting from a constant push for innovation under her predecessor; skepticism that the focus on the community will diminish artistic excellence; questions about Cullinan’s ability to manage a large institution; changes to the Yerba Buena Gardens complex that may affect YBCA’s tenancy and 14 percent of its revenue; a fraught environment in which artists and community members are being priced out of San Francisco by the influx of tech companies and their highly-paid workers, potentially altering the character of the city forever.

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