Eric Kerchner, executive director of the Englert, resigned today. You can find the announcement from the Englert Board of Directors in the Press Citizen here. Here’s some excerpts:
Eric Kerchner, Executive Director of the Englert Civic Theatre, announced that he will resign his position effective April 1, 2005. Kerchner has been Executive Director since April 1 of 2004.
A year. He made it a year. A lot of us suspected that he was not in it for the long haul, but only a year? Sheesh.
"One thing Eric does not get enough credit for is the amount of community-based acts he has booked," said Partridge. A number have already appeared on Englert's stage, and upcoming performances include the Iowa City Community Band, New Horizons Band, Iowa City String Orchestra, City Circle Acting Company, Young Footliters, Old Capitol Chorus, Greg Brown and Dave Zollo. We also have commitments from the Jazz Festival, ArtsFest and Arts Iowa City. And of course we plan to play a large part in Iowa City Community Theatre's upcoming 50th anniversary season."
Now, I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’ve been involved with Footliters for the past six weeks, and closely involved (as in speaking with the President of Footliters every day among other things) for the past two weeks. The Englert was never mentioned except in regards to how expensive it would be to perform there. So I’m confident in saying that the Footliters will be surprised to know they are booked at the Englert. And I’m still a part of the ICCT Board, and while we hope to be able to do performances at the Englert as part of our 50th anniversary season, nothing is set in stone yet and a great many of us are pessimistic about the chances of doing any shows there next season.
Nonetheless, this is good news. I met with Kerchner several times while I was still ICCT President, and I don’t think I ever got the straight truth from him on an issue. He’s a master of telling people what they want to hear and then doing the opposite of what he told them. He was also very clearly opposed to community artists using the facility, no matter what Mike Partridge might say in the press release. So the fact that he is leaving alone is good news. That good news is compounded by that paragraph I cited. Even if it isn’t the most factually accurate piece of writing, the fact that the Englert Board felt they had to say it shows that they know they need to bring more community productions into the building.
So what’s next?
Well, any search for a replacement that doesn’t involve a call to Justine Zimmer to see what she’s doing and to see if she’s interested is going to be an incomplete search. There is no one more capable or appropriate for running the Englert than Justine. Forget her background. She knows the building, she knows the community – in short, she’s perfect.
But that’s for the Englert Board to do. The rest of us need to recognize that things aren’t going to change just because the main obstacle is gone. We need to keep up the pressure, although we probably don’t need to be as public about it. We need to let the Englert Board know that we are supportive of them and interested in using the facility. We need to remind them of the commitment they made to this community, and hold them to that commitment. Now is not the time to let up. Now is not the time to relax.
It is time to smile, though, and wave goodbye to Eric Kerchner. We’re sorry you ever came, we’re glad to see you go, and please, please Eric – do be a stranger.