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Ousted cultural leader had mixed reviews

Dec 9, 2013

By The Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Records leading to her ouster show frustration among staff and board members with the longtime leader of two Oregon cultural agencies who was criticized for controlling behavior and micro-management.

The records also had praise for Chris D'Arcy in her 19 years leading the Oregon Arts Commission and 10 years as head of the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Salem Statesman Journal reported.

Business Oregon, the state economic development agency, oversees the organizations. The arts commission funnels national and state money to artists and arts organizations statewide. The cultural trust collects nearly $4 million yearly from taxpayers who donate to cultural nonprofits in return for a state tax credit.

D'Arcy's firing caused ripples through the arts community statewide and raised questions from arts advocates.

The chairs of the groups met Oct. 3 with Business Oregon Director Tim McCabe and the department's human resources manager, Pua Sequeira. D'Arcy was dismissed Oct. 28.

Sequeira's notes from the meeting list 17 “issues/challenges” including:

— “Overall sentiment: High degree of frustration with Chris among Trust staff and some board members.”

— “Follow through. Commits to tasks and follow-up items that do not happen.”

— “Can be controlling and a micro-manager.”

— “Doesn't take criticism well.”

Sequeira also listed eight “positive” points, including:

— “Good job balancing many duties among two organizations.”

— “Fierce and visible advocate for arts and culture.”

— “Long-term history in Oregon with arts.”

D'Arcy told the paper in an email she wasn't told of the criticisms and would have tried to fix the problems.

“They were never discussed with me, nor was I able to provide any feedback or offer any corrections to statements made,” she wrote.

Her letter of dismissal notes that “executive service employees” serve at will and can be dismissed without cause.

Two members of the Arts Commission board resigned. Royal Nebeker said he saw no need for the change, and Henry Sayre, the vice chairman, said it came as a surprise to him.

Shannon Planchon was named interim head of the two groups. She was the arts commission assistant director from 2004 to January, when she left to join her husband's consulting firm. The firm provides technical support to nonprofit organizations and public agencies.

She said she is not a candidate for the permanent job.


Information from: Statesman Journal,

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