Henry Timms, who guided Lincoln Center through the turmoil of the pandemic and helped complete the $550 million renovation of David Geffen Hall, will step down as its leader this summer after five years, he announced on Wednesday.
Timms will become chief executive of the Brunswick Group, a global public relations firm. He said he had always intended to stay at Lincoln Center for five to seven years, and that the Brunswick Group, which advises top companies and cultural groups, had approached him about a position there at the end of last year.
“I feel proud of what we’ve done,” he said in an interview in his office above the Lincoln Center campus. “But I also always believe that change is a good thing.”
Steven R. Swartz, the chairman of Lincoln Center’s board, said in an interview that Timms had been a “transformational leader” who had helped drive innovation and played a critical role in accelerating the renovation of Geffen Hall, home to the New York Philharmonic, during the pandemic.
“In our perfect world, we’d have him continue to do the job,” Swartz said. “But we certainly understand that he sees this opportunity as his next step and obviously wish him all the best.”
Timms, 47, arrived at Lincoln Center in 2019 with a mandate to restore stability to the organization, which was grappling with financial woes and years of leadership churn. He was also tasked with resetting Lincoln Center’s fraught relationship with its constituent organizations, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet and the Philharmonic. The center acts as landlord to those groups but has little power over them, since each has its own leadership, board and budget. The center also presents its own work, sometimes putting it in competition with its constituents.
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