The Sarasota Orchestra’s Board of Directors is experiencing a shake-up.
Following the resignations of several longtime members, board chairman Marsha Panuce announced last Tuesday that she would be leaving the organization two years into her three-year term.
Panuce, a former concert pianist and businesswoman, served on the orchestra board for 10 years. She’s the fifth board member to step down from the organization this season.
Last fall, former City of Sarasota Auditor and Clerk Billy Robinson resigned, followed by longtime members Jeannette D’Angelo and Hope Leuchter shortly thereafter.
Secretary Annette Grishman resigned earlier this spring.
According to Leuchter, who served on the board for 20 years, the resignations are a result of, “micromanagement and a general feeling of the board becoming powerless.”
“There were policies put into effect that we weren’t happy with,” Leuchter says. “There were business and administrative practices that were hard to swallow.”
Leuchter says one of her biggest grievances was the “treatment of board chair, Marsha Panuce.”
“From my perspective, Marsha was the best chance they ever had at a board president,” Leuchter says. “She brought a sense of business, great honesty and intelligence to the board. She was a true businessperson and a true musician. She would have been an immense help with working through the search for a new maestro.”
Last year, maestro Leif Bjaland announced his 15-year tenure would be coming to an end.
And now with news that associate conductor Dirk Meyer will start the 2013-2014 season as the Music Director Designate for the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra in Duluth, Minn., the board has got even more work on its hands.
Says Lechter, “It’s a mass exodus.”
However, not everyone on the board shares Lechter’s opinions.
Vice chairman Arnold Hoffman calls his former board member’s comments “unfounded and nonsense.”
Hoffman says the board has already begun to replace the members it’s lost throughout the year, none of which he felt resigned out of malcontent.
New board members include Gerri Aaron, Len Glaser, Richard Major, Tom Ryan and Lois Stulberg.
Vice chairman Anne Folsom Smith will assume the duties of chairman through the end of the fiscal year — July 31, 2012.
“We have a dedicated group of very proficient people with a lot of experience in a range of fields and board service,” Hoffman says. “While we were surprised by Marsha’s decision to resign, it is normal for orchestra board chairs to serve two-year terms. It is an exceptionally time consuming position. We are very appreciative of the efforts and time volunteered by Marsha and the other members who have completed their service to the orchestra and the community.”
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