Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chairs of the College of Visual and Performing Arts

Dear Mr. Hoone,

As Chairs in The College of Visual and Performing Arts' schools and departments of Art and Design, Transmedia, Music, Drama, and Communication and Rhetorical Studies, one of our most important roles is to form a productive bridge between the upper administration and our faculty and students. In order to facilitate the goals of our respective areas, transparency and communication are of utmost importance; anything less breeds distrust and division. Your position as Executive Director of CMAC requires a similar necessity for productive bridge building, and results in similar consequences when transparency and communication are not upheld. Needless to say, those in positions of leadership must make difficult decisions. What seems to be more difficult for some is the fact that with effective leadership comes the necessity to stand behind one's decisions by squarely and honestly facing those who are directly affected by such decisions.

As the letters on this blog clearly convey, our community is tight, strong, articulate, intelligent, and absolutely starving for what Astria Suparak has brought to us this past year as Curator and Director of the Warehouse Gallery. Especially for those of us engaged in the visual arts, this space and its exhibitions have provided an invaluable teaching environment for enlivened discussion and critique. Due to Ms. Suparak's strong and imaginative leadership, those of us not specifically engaged in the visual arts have also begun to utilize the space and have developed some exciting plans for the future. It is obviously difficult to understand why someone who has accomplished so much in such a short time could possibly be dismissed. It is equally difficult to understand why you would want to change to a "…new structure and a revised and broader position for_leadership of the Warehouse Gallery" given Ms. Suparak's demonstrated successes in her first year as Director. If indeed these new plans include broader leadership, it is hard to imagine anyone more qualified for that role than Ms. Suparak. At the very least, it would seem quite obvious that Ms. Suparak should be called upon to be at the helm of the changes that you deem necessary, given her irrefutable successes and the excellent relationships she has developed with people on campus, in the Syracuse community, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

We hope you can understand why it is difficult to accept that Ms. Suparak's dismissal is related to "personnel issues". Given the long list of Ms. Suparak's concrete successes and accomplishments in her position as Director, one would hope that personnel issues could be reconciled for the much greater good of her continuing as Director of the Warehouse Gallery.

We implore you to further expand your plans for changes at the Warehouse Gallery to include, not dismiss, Ms. Suparak, and to please work out the so-called personnel issues you referred to in your statement. Additionally, out of respect for the mission of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, we expect that from this point on you will consult and communicate with our faculty and students when there are decisions to be made that so clearly affect the curriculum, the faculty, and the students of our college.

Respectfully Yours,
The Chairs of the College of Visual and Performing Arts

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Syracuse has lost one its greatest assets. Astria Suparak, Inaugural Director of The Warehouse Gallery of Syracuse University, was removed from her position as of Sept. 30th, 2007, despite widespread support from community members, students, faculty, and the international art community. This decision was made unilaterally by Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC).

At the time of Suparak's dismissal, Hoone also canceled her forthcoming exhibitions, including "Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men," due to open in November 2007.