Another arts casualty? This isn’t looking good.

By DJ Kelly January 27, 2009

Also available on the Calgary Herald’s Q.

What a crazy week it has been in Calgary’s arts community. Upheaval galore!

First Jeffrey Spalding unceremoniously left the Glenbow and was quickly – and permanently – replaced by former Vice-President, Access, Collections and Exhibits, Kirstin Evenden as President and CEO after only 13 months. Then came the news that Martin Fishman artistic director of Lunchbox Theatre and their board were “parting ways” after Martin being AD for less than a year. He is being replaced on an interim basis by former Lunchbox artistic director Rona Waddington.

Then yesterday comes the news that Colin Jackson, a stalwart as CEO of the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts, would be entering “retirement” (as the press release called it) with no replacement being named yet. Colin puts a good face on things, but much like the previous two departures I list, there is no doubt dirt to be dished. In this case I hear “retirement” is a synonym for – in the words of Jeffrey Spalding – “not a planned departure”.

What is going on in Calgary’s arts community? In a time when “showing stability” is about to become the buzz phrase around most board of directors tables, there sure isn’t a whole lot of stability being shown.

Is it time to panic? Are things really as bad as these departures make things look?

Perhaps not. Love these three or hate ‘em I do hear there were legitimate reasons leading to the departures – most involving finances of the organization. Obviously I don’t know what discussions have been had around those board meetings or what level of involvement the departed had in their inevitable re-employment. Regardless, right decisions or wrong, I can say with absolutely assurance this doesn’t look good on the industry as a whole.

Some good news is desperately needed. Another Bob White/Vanessa Porteous/ATP story sure would be good right about now.