ON THE BOARDS, MARK MURPHY REACH AGREEMENT THAT WOULD LEAD TO HIS RETURN AS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR.
On the Boards (OTB) announced today that it has reached an agreement with its former artistic director, Mark Murphy, that would result in his return to the organization.
On April 26, OTB's board of directors asked for the resignations of Murphy and Managing Director Sara Pasti as part of a restructuring in an effort to resolve difficult operational and management issues. Pasti was asked to continue as OTB's Interim Manager while the board developed an Executive Director position that combined both artistic and management functions.
With the signing of today's agreement with Murphy, OTB has put on hold its plan to consolidate the positions. The organization will now embark on a national search for a managing director who, along with Murphy, will report directly to the board of directors.
Word of Murphy's April termination quickly spread through Seattle's community of performance artists. Murphy is widely regarded as one of the leading artistic directors in the world of cutting-edge performance art. As a result, his dismissal appeared abrupt and unwarranted to many artists, who flooded the board with letters, emails, faxes and angry phone calls.
"The board listened carefully to the outpouring of support for Mark's artistic vision from artists and administrators here and across the country," said John Kucher, a board member who served on a special committee charged with finding a workable solution. After three weeks of deliberation that included an open forum for community input, meetings with concerned performance artists, and discussions between Murphy and board members, the board voted to bring him back in the fall if he meets certain agreed-upon conditions.
"We were able to put everything on the table that we had been trying to deal with since last year," Kucher said, "and reach an agreement with Mark on how to deal with those issues."
Murphy also sounded a cooperative note following his signing of the agreement. "I believe that the board acted in good faith during this process, and was trying to address some real and valid concerns that are important to the organization's future," Murphy said. "I'm confident that the board and I have a shared vision for On the Boards. I know that together we will be able to ensure that the organization will thrive."
The board is forming a special ad hoc committee that includes artists, community leaders, donors and others that will provide input on long-term management structure, board development and executive staff issues, including today's agreement with Murphy.
Kucher said that while the past month had been difficult for everyone involved with the organization, it had also produced a new dialogue with the local artistic community. As a result, a permanent Artistic Advisory Committee will work directly with the board to provide valuable perspective on issues facing the organization, he said.
Acknowledging Pasti's contributions as Managing Director, Kucher said, "Sara did a tremendous job with the capital campaign and move into our new facility, working with vision and commitment through both the fundraising and construction phases. Throughout everything, she has been gracious and cooperative."
Kucher said Pasti has chosen not to remain with the organization in any role other than the interim one.
After finalizing next year's New Performance Series, Murphy will take time off from the organization. After meeting the terms of the agreement, he will return as Artistic Director on November 15. In the interim, former Artistic Director and OTB Founder Robert McGinley will provide artistic guidance for the organization.
Peter Donnelly, President of Seattle's Corporate Council for the Arts and longtime supporter of On the Boards, was instrumental in forging the basis for Murphy's potential return. "On the Boards and Mark Murphy are both very important to our community," Donnelly said. "I'm glad that I could help bring them back together to address their issues."