Cape Charles Mirror Report – Wayne Creed
Executive Director of Arts Enter Cape Charles, Larry Giddons has resigned his position after being appointed just a few months earlier. Mr. Giddons’ appointment followed an internal shakeup at the organization, which occurred after the stepping down of long time Executive Director, Clelia Shepperd. With Ms. Shepperd’s exit, the Arts Enter Board of Directors, led by New Jersey native Hank Mayer, quickly moved to clean house. This led to the leaving of long-time administrator, Mary Ann Roehm.
With Giddons gone, the next steps for Arts Enter are unknown at this time. Sources tell the Mirror, however, that Ms. Shepherd has confided “We built this ship, and we have been here too long, and put in too much work to see this ship go down. We won’t let Arts Enter fail, it is too important to the community.”
The Giddons departure certainly leaves a generous portion of egg on the face of the current Board of Directors, and calls into question the leadership of Board Chairman Hank Mayer. Already, there is a lack of confidence that the current Board is capable of leading this critical cultural institution, and there are rumors that there have been calls for Mayer’s resignation. The Board’s misteps are having concrete repercussions on Arts Enter. The level one performance chosen by the Board for the first half of the season was supposed to be Gwen Skeen’s original musical adaptation of O.Henry’s ‘Gift of the Magi’. According to sources, due to lack of support, commitment or advertising, Ms. Skeens has decided to cancel the show.
Since Mayer has taken over as Chairman, the focus of the Arts Enter Board has been questionable at best. It seemed the only real care and focus of this Board has been the Benefit By The Bay. Back in the day, Arts Enter and the Palace Theater was an organization that put on a seasonal benefit event. In recent times, it has become a benefit event with a theater somehow loosely attached to it. The Benefit is critically important to the existence of Arts Enter, I get that, but its purpose is to aid and protect the theater, not the other way around. It is time for this Board to get its priorities in order.
The continued success of Arts Enter and the Palace Theater is critical to the future of the Town of Cape Charles. Mr. Mayer, if he truly cares, should consider stepping down so that Arts Enter can move forward in a fresh, clean environment uninhibited by the baggage of the previous Chairman. In the interim, Ms. Mary Ann Roehm should be appointed in his place. Moving forward, any attempt to water down this theater by bringing its programs and events under the droll and pedestrian umbrella otherwise known as Cape Charles by the Bay (this is being discussed), should be vehemently resisted. Art must remain authentic, autonomous from the automatons running the Town of Cape Charles. The search for Mr. Giddons’ replacement should begin as soon as possible, however, before making the same mistake twice, the next ED should be someone with intimate knowledge of this theater, real, boots on the ground stage experience, understands the sacrifice, and has a love and personal stake in this theater’s success. That candidate is out there, and it is vital that Arts Enter hire her. Also, Mary Ann Roehm should be brought back home, because the theater family loves her too much, and doesn’t think Arts Enter can fair too well without her.