Monday, July 6, 2009

guest artists respond to skylight

niffer clarke, speaking on behalf of the skylight theatre guest artists, isn't satisfied with board president suzanne hefty and past president howard miller's response:
Dear Ms. Hefty and Mr. Miller,

Thank you for replying to the Guest Artist Letter submitted to the Skylight Board. After reading it, however, I am troubled with apparent inconsistencies and left with questions.

I am glad to hear that you take our concern very seriously; however, I cannot help but question the sincerity of this. Why have no other inquiries or phone calls elicited a response? I know that many patrons, local artists, even donors have petitioned you with similar questions and concerns, and their petitions have still gone unanswered. This is unconscionable.

That you acknowledge the mishandling of your decision is an understatement, at best. The restructuring, position eliminations and underlying reasons were not spelled out in ANY detail in advance, let alone sufficient detail. The public response still has not been "handled".

That you state your decision "will not be reversed" merely serves to make me suspect of your allegations to have an open forum regarding these decisions.

I understand the severity of Skylight's financial situation. And I understand how the staff and administration over the past three years have worked together to implement necessary cuts. Why then was the staff not included in the most recent decisions? Why were they not given the opportunity to engage in this dialogue and offer solutions that would have resulted in the same financial savings. As is most apparent in this aftermath, there existed other solutions which the staff was quite willing to make. I'm afraid you misunderstood -- WE didn't want to be included in the discussions. We are asking why wasn't the staff included in these discussions? Your determination to keep this a discussion limited to the Managing Director and the Executive Board unfortunately smacks of a lack of transparency. As it becomes clearer through the resignation of Skylight Board members, the discussions regarding the totality of this decision did not even include the Board. This only lends an appearance of deception, which I hope and trust was not your intent.

I am not convinced, after reading your explanation, that you fully understand the responsibilities of the Artistic Director. To believe that the Artistic Director's responsibilities can be "assumed" by someone who is presently the Managing Director, and whose artistic experience is limited and on an incomparably different scale than one demanded of an organization the size of the Skylight, is short-sighted. In my mind, you have failed to substantiate your "great confidence" in Mr. Dillner's artistic management abilities.

Lastly, I must take great offense at the usage of Bill Theisen's acceptance to direct four shows next year as an attempt to pacify and appease the opposition to your decision. That this response to the Guest Artists was made after Bill announced his acceptance can only raise eyebrows.

I cannot help but still feel let down. And the fact that your response to the public outcry has been scant and questionably timed has severely damaged your position and credibility. For the Skylight to succeed, as you maintain is your wish, I continue to petition you to reconsider your decision. Further, I urge you to consider what you can do to repair relations with Skylight's disappointed, disillusioned and unsettled patrons, supporters, donors and artists. Your actions at this point will be most telling. I implore you to do the right thing for the future of the Skylight, which will take great courage and a setting aside of personal ambition and enterprise.

Niffer Clarke

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