Club Passim executive director Dan Hogan to retire; read his letter to the Cambridge venue

Dan Hogan, executive director of Club Passim in Cambridge, has announced his retirement from the legendary Harvard Square folk venue, effective at the end of June. Hogan served as executive director for seven years.

“I’ve been involved with Passim for eleven wonderful years, the first four as a member of the board of directors and the last seven as Executive Director,” says Hogan in a press release. “It’s time for me to devote more time to my family, friends and other favorite interests. But I look forward to staying involved in a smaller way. My hope is that I have left Passim in excellent shape in order to begin the next phase of its growth.”

The Passim Board of Directors will immediately begin a search for a new director to over see the venue, its 400 shows each year, and several charitable and educational programs, including the Iguana Music Fund and Passim’s School of Music.

Adds chairman Jerry Potts: “When Dan took the helm at Passim, it was immediately clear that we had found the right person at the right time. After seven years, he leaves a legacy that proves the organization can be successful financially while still achieving its artistic mission. Thanks in large part to Dan’s work, I’m incredibly optimistic about the future of Passim and we will move forward with a commitment to build on his work. ”

Read Hogan’s retirement letter below…

Dear Passim Board, Staff, Members, Donors, Artists, Instructors, Volunteers, Consultants, Family, Friends and All Our Passim and Harvard Square Community:

After 11 years of wonderful involvement with Passim – the last 7 as Executive Director – I am retiring on June 30 – the end of our fiscal year. As I move toward my mid-70s, I realize the need to devote more time to my family and friends. In particular, I’d like to be able to pursue some of my favorite interests more intensely – practicing guitar with the dream of playing open mic on the Passim stage, playing international tournament squash, and traveling while my legs still allow it – these are a few things that come to mind!

Retiring is something I’ve been considering for several years but needed to find a time when my departure would not interfere with any major project or key strategic initiative at Passim. The past two years have been taken up with serious exploration of whether we could renovate the Club and also dealing with the closure of Veggie Planet, which had supplied us with food for more than a dozen years. Now that we have almost finished putting in place our fine new restaurant with Chef Brandon Arms at the helm, I feel the time is right.

I consider myself blessed to have been able to end my career with Passim. It truly is an “iconic and legendary” institution that has had and continues to have a national impact on the music scene. For the first ten years as “Club 47,” it played a key role in the folk revival of the ‘60s and was the home of Joan Baez, Tom Rush, the Charles River Valley Boys and a host of others. Beat poet Bob Donlin and his wife Rae Anne kept the venue going as “Passim” from 1969 to 1994. Then, on the Donlins’ retirement, “Passim” became the nonprofit we are today. So this is now our 57th year – quite a record for a small performance arts organization in a small space.

While not the artist that merits a place on the Passim stage, music has always been a critical part of my life. I started playing guitar in 1958 when I was 14. All during high school and college, it was a way for me to deal with some of the trials and tribulations of becoming an adult and surviving the teenage years. It was the era of Joan Baez, Kingston Trio, Ian and Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot and all the great folksingers of the ‘60s. I got my sustenance from them. Leonard Cohen was (and still is) my muse.

I came to Passim as a patron in the mid-60s, while attending Harvard Law School. After moving to Concord in the ‘80s to raise my children, I returned a little more than a decade ago and began taking guitar lessons from Janet Feld, one of Passim’s longest serving instructors. My young- est daughter Haley is responsible for my deeper involvement with Passim. I took her into Daedalus at 47 Mt. Auburn Street to show her where the original Club was. The bartender knew nothing of the history but showed me a Club 47 flyer made by Byron Linardos from the ‘60s that someone had brought in several weeks before. It bothered me that they had this piece of history so I returned to ask the owners, Laurence and Brendan Hopkins, if I could give it to Passim. The transfer took place at an event on the evening of the departure of the Director of Development. Several of the board members present asked if I would be interested in joining the board. After a number of interviews, the board offered me a position. I was honored and agreed. One thing led to another and three years later I became Executive Director. That was 2008, Passim’s 50th year.

My hope is that I have helped to leave Passim in excellent shape in order to begin the next phase of its growth. Fully taking over the restaurant function in our Club will now allow us to provide more programming – lunch-time concerts at which younger artists can perform, weekday morning concerts for families with pre-school children and more matinees. We will soon be implementing a new consolidated platform for all our databases and developing a new mobile friendly website. With luck, our Club renovation, including making it fully accessible to all, will see the light of day. These are opportunities for our next Executive Director. In the meantime, I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to have led this incredible institution and for the friendships I have formed with the many good people who have helped along the way.

Below I have made a rather long list of those whose support has helped keep Passim a thriving institution. I am undyingly grateful for their contribution.

Our office staff today – Hannah Baker, Jon Dorn, Alex Eggleston, Courtney Gallagher, Kristina Latino, Lis Rhodes, Matt Smith – is a close-knit group of talented individuals who work together as a true team. I will sorely miss the laughter of our daily lunches together. They have done an outstanding job of fulfilling our mission to provide exceptional musical experiences, nurture artists at all stages of their development and build a vibrant musical community. Matt Smith, our Managing Director, deserves special mention for his unstinting work in booking and running our Club. His relationship with artists and his involvement and knowledge of the current music scene is unparalleled.

Our Board of Directors has provided superb leadership and oversight. Jerry Potts, now 15 years on the board and Chair since 2008, has been instrumental in helping our board develop into a strategically oriented and solidly functioning group. His wise counsel and unfailing support were absolutely critical to working through some of our toughest issues. Our roughly 1,000 members, donors, sponsors and volunteers contribute generously to help us balance our budget and to build our community. In this regard, Bob Davoli, Don Glazer, Dave Hogan, Barrie Landry, Brad Meyer, Jeanne Robertson, Rachael Solem, Jon Strymish, Dan & Kathy Tappan and a very philanthropic anonymous donor have all been especially generous over many years.
Of course, there are our artists – the lifeblood of Passim, many of whom consider Passim their home – artists who have donated performances, who have played campfire festival or BCMFest, or who have taught in our school. I’ve felt a special connection with a number of them, including Dinty Child, Laura Cortese, Janet Feld, Shannon Heaton, Bertrand Laurence, Kimber Ludiker, Leanne McNally, Alastair Moock, Annie Raines, Haley Reardon, Paul Rishell, Suz Slezak, Sean Smith, Lloyd Thayer (Gratitude!), and David Wax Without our artists it would be impossible to fulfill our mission. Thank you!

At Harvard University, I had the pleasure of working with Jim Gray and Lisa Hogarty. They and Harvard’s senior management team helped us weather some very rough times through forgive- ness of rent and providing us opportunities to use Sanders Theater for benefit concerts, to mention just a few of the ways in which the University has been of help. Executive Director Denise Jillson and Board President John DiGiovanni of the Harvard Square Business Association, along with so many of its members, have afforded ongoing and invaluable support. The City of Cambridge has provided great assistance through the help of Jason Weeks of the Arts Council, Elizabeth Lint of the License Commission and many other departments. At the state level, through the leadership of Anita Walker and Jay Paget, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has given us annual operating grants and special planning grants, which have been instrumental in shaping our future.
I am deeply indebted to the many consultants whose counsel has proven indispensable. Adam Klein’s PR has raised our public profile immeasurably. Barry Horwitz led two teams of pro bono Harvard Business School consultants to help us with strategy, marketing and most crucial at the time – survival. Dick Boardman, Lynne Cavanaugh, Ilisa Hurowitz, Jim Kitendaugh, and Teil Silverstein provided invaluable fundraising assistance. Frank Barrett-Mills, Michael Bissanti, Julia Shanks and Michael Staub each made critical contributions to helping us start our restaurant. All have become dear friends.

Finally, I want to thank my family and personal friends for all their support and love during my years with Passim. My children, Haley, Sarah and Matt have been patient listeners and advisors. My sister Barrie and brother Dave have been generous donors and have offered sound counsel on many issues. The same is true for my cousins Julie Freedman and Mark Kennedy, as well as my close friends, especially Ann Coles, Nick Danforth, Bob Dickie, Ron Fleming, Dorsey Gardner, Chuck Gibson, Don Glazer, Russell Kramp, Renny Merritt, Kent Nelson, Frank & Jenny Phillips, Horace Seldon and Loring Stevens.

I have undoubtedly but inadvertently omitted significant contributors to Passim and the people I care about. Please forgive me for that but know that you are in my heart.

Building this rather long list of people and organizations to thank has deeply reinforced in me the crucial significance of the African saying that “It takes a village to raise a child.” For Passim, it takes a whole community of caring people to make it the iconic and legendary institution that it is today and will be tomorrow. I am incredibly glad that we have that community.

With love and affection to all,

Dan Hogan, Executive Director, Passim


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