DCPA Rattled by Resignations and Reign of New Non-Industry CEO
According to Westword, artistic director of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Kent Thompson will be leaving the company after 12 years of revolutionary work. Discerning and socially aware, Thompson led the company in its focus on producing plays by women and writers of color, set up the New Play Summit which fosters development of original works, and created the Women's Voices Fund which is responsible for commissioning and producing new plays by female writers.
Thompson's official statement said "After twelve seasons, I believe it's now time to move on to other opportunities in professional theatre." DCPA trustee Jim Steinberg came forward, however, and revealed that new CEO Janice Siden, previously chief of staff to Mayor Michael Hancock, forced Thompson out of his position.
Westword reports that during Christmas week, Siden met with Thompson and revealed that she would not be renewing his contract and gave him the option to leave immediately or direct a final show. Thompson chose to stay for the final show, and is set to take his leave on March 3.
These are not the first staff upsets the company has experienced. Sinden's predecessor Scott Shiller resigned after only a year citing "significant divergence in my vision for the company and that of the leadership of the DCPA board of trustees."
Sinden plans to lead a nationwide search and is confident in her ability to hire. When it comes to what to look for she says the new artistic director "should have a tremendous amount of creative authority; I'm not sophisticated enough in my love of art to make those decisions. It should be someone mindful of what's going on in the world, who our patrons are, the Colorado community - someone who has a collaborative spirit, but at the end of the day, they should be the ones who make the decisions."
Former trustee Steinberg points out, however, that the idea of working for a CEO without industry experience may not be appealing to everyone. He says "right now I think it's going to be a tougher position to fill than they think. I may be wrong, but as people understand what happened here, there may be some hesitancy to go to work for a CEO who doesn't know the field. It is messy, and this is heartless. You don't do this to somebody on Christmas week after twelve years."
Read Juliet Wittman's full Westword story here.