Leaving Las Vanguard

All good things must come to an end.

Or so they say. I don’t know that my association with Vanguard was always a good one, but I would like to think it had its moments. Whatever the case, it has certainly come to an end: I resigned from the theatre last week. On my birthday, now that I think about it.

For those of you who are not involved in the non-profit arts scene, let me start off by saying that it’s a difficult one. Budgets are small, salaries non-existent, while expectations and competition are at an all time high. Things are stacked against you at every turn. Vanguard Theatre Ensemble has some other unique challenges on its plate, chief among them being the fact that the theatre is running year-round. For eight years it’s been this way. Most theatres run for nine months and are down for the remaining three. But VTE always has a show in rehearsal or running, and it takes its toll. Also, the theatre doesn’t have a traditional founder/artistic director, so decision making has proven troublesome.

Part of what I did there was to try and help fill that gap as the Managing Director. Apparently I did a piss-poor job of it. The Board of Directors took an anonymous written poll of the ensemble members, and their comments about my performance were, without exception, negative. At times, vitriolic. I found some of the allegations surprising. Weather they are true is not for me to decide. It wouldn’t matter even if it was, because as someone wise beyond their years once said, perception is nine-tenths of reality.

Things had gotten personal. They sometimes do, especially where artistic matters are concerned. Why? Because artistic expression is a personal thing. I’m willing to take a lot of heat, a lot of crap, in order to further a cause I believe in. Vanguard was that cause. But every person has a line–a personal threshold–and when that line is crossed it’s simply not possible to put aside issues such as fairness, right vs. wrong, etc. for the common good anymore. I’m a human being with feelings, and they got stepped on in a way I didn’t think was possible until it happened.

You might be interested in the sordid details. What was said. By whom. Oh, you probably wouldn’t admit it, but in some dark place we don’t talk about at high tea, the desire for it is there. It’s the Jerry Springer in all of us. But I won’t go there, because despite everything I certainly think highly of what Vanguard has achieved. As I wrote in my letter of resignation, I wish only the best for VTE and continue to encourage people to support the theatre.

And besides, the things that were written may be true. It seems to me the adult thing would be to accept responsibility for it and move on, and that’s what your friendly neighborhood Spiderman has attempted to do. The bottom line is that I believe Vanguard will be a better place without me. So this chapter of my life closes, and I move on to other and hopefully more successful partnerships.

I’m cool with it. You see, I have this philosophy about life and the way I live it: I try not to begrudge myself the mistakes I make, as long as I learn from them. Hopefully I grow and don’t repeat my errors. Only time will tell if I learn the proper lesson from The Vanguard Experience, but by the grace of God I will.


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