The ACT React

'Far too many boards in this town don't have a clue about fiduciary responsibility nor about their job descriptions as trustees.'

The ACT board of directors must take the honorable step and resign ["Dream Weavers," Feb. 26]. En masse; in toto. I call upon them to do so.

As theater artists, our job is twofold: to produce plays people wish to see, and to do them well. Boards of directors in these not-for-profit arts enterprises also have two primary functionsan alpha and a beta: Their primary charge is to raise moneyM-O-N-E-Y. If they can't, don't, or won't, get out. Their beta function is to say, "No." The ACT board clearly failed to do the former, and apparently could not say the latter when it mattered most.

These trustees need to discover other volunteer projects to occupy their time, for practical reasons, if for nothing else. Temporarily setting aside issues of re-establishment of the public trust or ethics, even possibly legal questionsif you were one of the modern Medicis this board is hoping to hook living on the Eastside or in Shoreline, wouldn't you think thrice before giving this gang your money? They've shown that long-term financial planning is not their forte; for the sake of nearly 25 percent of all available theater jobs in this city, these individuals must step aside and allow more capable people to replace them.

In these times, it is the rare individual or group who accepts responsibility for their actions. I'm certain this board will attempt to spin and squirm their way out of shouldering the full responsibility for this sad, sorry state of affairs. I'm here to tell you "that dog won't hunt."

Don't forget they take on this charge in their free time. This is an adjunct to their livelihoods. Unfortunately for theater artists, this was our bread and butter. At the end of the day, the ACT board all return to their real jobs. For directors, actors, carpenters, designers, painters, seamstresses, sculptors, dressersACT was one of our real jobs.

Shame on them. Step aside.

Laurence Ballard

Seattle

Roger Downey writing about the ACT fiasco! The Weekly all but leapt from the newsstand and onto my table. Finally the word for all of us who in the '80s were fed the doctrine of "Arts Stabilization" or "Gee, if we can prove that the majors are responsible, maybe you little guys can catch a bone." Great, here we are 15 years later with a brand-new $30 million theater and a board of directors behaving as if they just walked into a cockroach-filled apartment and turned on the lights. And still no one has come forth with an explanation for the financial mess, much less a rationale for ACT's continued existence, even one as simply put as Steve Wiecking's accompanying article, "Tearjerker."

My only quibble with Mr. Downey is over his conjecture that there is an epidemic of unaccountability in the arts. I work for a small arts organization, and my boss and our board of directors won't let me pursue projects that don't pencil out. I also jam creatively with a collective of over 200 theater artists who twice a year put on a festival of 20 world-premiere short plays, and we don't owe anyone a dime. There are many artists and institutions that work responsibly to build a culture that matters. They should not be shackled to the deck of this sinking flagship.

Carl Sander

Seattle

I want to thank Roger Downey for writing such a candid article about ACT. I used to be the president of the board of trustees of the Northwest School and am currently the president of the board of trustees of the Seattle Academy of Fine Art and a member of the board of Copper Canyon Press. I salute Downey for drawing attention to what seemed so obvious to me when the story broke. What the hell was the board thinking?! Far too many boards in this town don't have a clue about fiduciary responsibility nor about their job descriptions as trustees. Downey's right, too, about the public paying for their folly. Shame on these boards that abuse the "trust" of the organization they're volunteering for.

Sue Aran

Seattle

Roger Downey's article should be required reading for arts organization trustees across the country. It is really a shame when a theater company that has been around for such a long time goes down the tubes so quickly, and usually from the same thing: confusing artistic improvement with flashy buildings and out-of-town talent.

Kathleen Rogers

Boston, MA

NERVOUS NEVILLE?

Let me see if I understand. One of the costs of protecting us from missile attack is to "trash" the ABM treaty [Mossback, "Dogs of War and Ignorance," Feb. 26]. Is Knute Berger saying that if we adhere to a piece of paper, we will stay safe from attack? Or is he saying we should go ahead with an ABM system but also adhere to the treaty? Or is he a mini-Neville Chamberlain, waving the ABM treaty as evidence for "peace in our time"? The liberals fought against an ABM system and fought against testing one. They always think that a negotiation with evil will protect us from it, and any evidence to the contrary is dismissed or not even seen until it is too late. But then, thinking clearly is not a liberal strong point.

Mark Nameroff

Seattle

BETTER THAN EYMAN

"Guns and Butter" [Feb. 26] was the fairest treatment of Republicans I've seen in the Weekly. George Howland handled two subjects better than Tim Eyman, that's for sure. Keep up the good work. I may even pick up a Weekly again someday.

Greg Magnoni

Sammamish

MENTAL-HEALTH CUTS

I'd like to commend Laura Stanley on "Street Asylum" [Feb. 26]. I'm a member of the King County Mental Health Board and NAMI Greater Seattle and am on the planning committee of Seattle's Move for Mental Health run/walk. I'm also the sibling of a brother with a severe mental illness. I'm very concerned about the state of mental-health care and, more importantly, the looming budget. I so appreciate responsible articles like this being written. Thank you.

Mindy Meyring

Seattle

RIGHT ON EL CAMINO

I, too, have always wondered why El Camino is so popular ["El Expensivo," Feb. 26]. I'm not actually a fan of their margaritas ( I know, I knoweverybody loves them), but I do love the deck on a sunny day and the plantains. I've never really enjoyed the food, though, and always thought it was very overpriced. C'mon, this isn't a fancy restaurant. I'm glad Katie Millbauer wrote this review. I don't feel so crazy now.

It's really too bad this city doesn't have more options for outside summer dining that we all have to pile into El Camino.

Tim Sale

Seattle

RIDICULOUS REVIEW

Because of the recent "review" of El Camino ["El Expensivo," Feb. 26], your paper has lost all credibility with me, for two major reasons (among a host of others): First, the review refers to "Mexican peasant food" and insists it "isn't haute cuisine." This is shameful and ridiculous. Seattle Weekly ought to apologize to the Mexican community for letting that one onto the presses. Second, the review is way off the mark in almost every respect. I have dined at El Camino a few times, and I have enjoyed it each time. The food is excellent and reasonably priced; considering the quality and quantity of food served, it's a great value. The wait staff is quite professional, friendly, and hardworking.

Dave Trask

Seattle

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