Citi Center’s Big Bonus

After five straight years of budget deficits and programming cuts at the Boston Citi Performing Arts Center, a report published July 31st shows no pennies were pinched when handing out a $1.3 million bonus to the president and chief executive of the center.

Josiah Spaulding Jr. received the bonus in addition to his regular $409,000 paycheck and $23,135 in benefits, according to the Boston Globe, which reviewed IRS documents and interviewed center officials.

The Citi Center, which consists of two theatres, the 3,561-capacity Wang Theatre and the 1,552-capacity Shubert Theatre, had a $6.3 million budget in 2006. Spaulding’s salary is equal to 6.5 percent of that budget.

The Citi Center, formally the Wang Center, doesn’t really have much moolah to share as it has struggled recently with increased competition. Chief financial officer Peter Fifield estimated the 2007 fiscal year would see a $354,716 deficit.

"Spaulding’s salary seems extraordinarily high compared to the activity level at the [Center]," said Richard Johnson, the former chief financial officer of Boston Ballet and the current CFO of Washington National Opera. "It seems to be entirely out of scale with what that organization does."

But board chairman John William Poduska Sr. said the bonus was A-OK.

"Was it justified or not? Boy, I’ll tell you it was. Joe was being courted by everyone under the sun. … He stayed and did a heck of a job."

Poduska said in a statement July 31st that Spaulding’s pay "in no way affects existing or future programming initiatives. Likewise, any insinuation that existing board members or current employees are in any way violating any conflict of interest is absurd."

Spaulding said he’s tried to help the center out financially.

"I wanted to contribute what I could," he said, in reference to volunteering to cut his pay by about $100,000 when his salary of $504,000 for the 2005 fiscal year was reduced.