Dear PAA members,
I am sure many of you have received the communication from AFTA regarding the outcome of their investigation and retirement of CEO Bob Lynch. I am sure you are, as was I, disappointed at the missed opportunity for AFTA to begin the process of full transparency and accountability within the Arts community.
AFTA failed to conduct a national search that had the potential to elicit a large pool of qualified applicants, which might have helped the organization move towards a more equitable and transparent institution. The choice to conduct an investigation and do all this behind the scenes internally, with no visible attempt at inclusion and engagement of the community served, was more than disappointing. Trust is the one value that is needed from any organization representing the field. Nothing about AFTA's process has instilled confidence in their ability to uphold its cultural equity statement, trust or accountability to your constituents. While Mr. Lynch's retirement comes as no surprise, failure to disclose anything about the investigations' findings, the resulting choices or the decision-making process again, leaves us to question what is not being shared? Why be opaque if no wrongdoing was found?
As board chair of PAA, I call on the AFTA Board or Mr. Nolan Bivens, newly appointed President and CEO, if he wishes to connect with PAA and the field, to schedule a call with the PAA board. To continue to operate in a vacuum only reinforces the belief that AFTA does not serve everyone as indicated in its mission, but merely functions to serve itself. If no further action is taken by AFTA, then we are left to judge by their lack of actions and meager words.
The arts field will not continue to drink the Kool-Aid AFTA is serving. We require an organization for all, one that is transparent, authentic and puts the interest of the field first. If AFTA cannot be that organization, then the field will find a different path forward. The field demands and deserves a national arts organization that reflects these values and principles and is representative of the beauty, diversity and breadth of the entire arts community.
Board Chair, Performing Arts Alliance
Executive Director, Alternate ROOTS