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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grants Committee Chair Vacant

The Saints now have a vacancy for one of the most critical roles in the organization. If you check the contact information on the Saints website, you will see that the name of Bill Fireside, former chair of the Scholarship Committee, and last year's chair of the Grants committee is no longer listed. An e-mail from BJ Nelson has been sent seeking individuals who have "leadership abilities and would consider taking on this position."

Does anyone want to comment on what might be going on? This committee granted approximately $40,000 in grants to the performing arts community last year, and did a stellar job. Does anyone want to comment about this new and serious development?


  1. Nothing really sinister here.
    Bill wasn't removed, he resigned. At the last meeting, the board established new rules governing the committee. Good rules? Matter of opinion. Good time to rock this boat? Probably not.

  2. While I appreciated your note to Deb Clapp, you lost me when you referred to the orginization as "a small dictatorship." While the Saints in not currently a healthy democracy, I believe that these events will provoke a larger percentage of Saints to vote in the next election. I trust the democratic process is alive and well at the Saints and we'll see that in the Spring!

  3. Does The Saints have a formal list of Qualifications for being a coordinator? Does The Saints have guidelines for what sorts of behaviors will get a coordinator banned from coordinating? I'm just curious. I'd like to see coordinators who are actively involved in volunteering for ushering spots and coordinators who are routinely polite and respectful in their e-mail communications. Just saying...

  4. I am truly sorry to see that Bill Fireside felt the need to resign his position as Grants Committee Chair. He is a devoted member of the Saints and valued his help on this committee as well as the Scholarship Committee. He will be missed very much by the Saints organization. The intrusion of the board on the good name of the organization in the theater community needs to come to an end.

  5. [Apologies in advance to readers as to the length of this comment.]

    The first anonymous commenter wrote, "Bill wasn't removed, he resigned." While technically true, it should be pointed out WHY he resigned.

    I am (was?) a member of the Grants Committee for this year. At our first meeting in early September, Bill reviewed the policies and procedures of the committee, but then passed out a message he had received the night before the meeting. Apparently at the August Board meeting, held early in August, several decisions were made with no input from him regarding the Grants Committee: the type of grants was severely restricted; members of the Grants Committee were required to recuse themselves [recuse: a legal term meaning "to withdraw from a position of judging so as to avoid any semblance of partiality or bias." /MSL] during grant decisions relating to any theater/group with which they had any connection [sounds reasonable enough ... /MSL] and that this requirement also applied to the spouse of a member also on the committee [... but note that Bill and his wife were the only couple on the committee /MSL]; all material related to Grants (announcements, form letters, etc.) sent to anyone outside the Saints had to be approved by the Board to fulfill its fiduciary responsibility; all incoming mail had to be sent only to the Saints office.

    Bill indicated he felt the Board was effectively stripping the Committee of any actual functional responsibility and then listed several previous interactions he had had with the Board where requests were unilaterally denied with no explanation.

    Bill questioned the Board liaison at the meeting why it took the Board a full month to let him know about these changes.

    Under those conditions he said he had no other option but to resign. The liaison referred to his comments and complaints as "personal rants." The entire Committee then voted to support his concerns.

    I think to say, "Bill wasn't removed, he resigned," is a bit misleading. It completely masks the increasing absolute control of everything the Board seems to be demanding.

    [posted with Bill's permission]

    Marvin Levin