Two weeks before the event, the Burlington Center for the Performing Arts and the Sound of Music undergo a leadership transition

Last week, Burlington Center for the Performing Arts executive director Tammy Fox resigned; no reason was given for her resignation.

Just over three weeks ago, Steve Cussons resigned as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sound of Music Festival (SOM).

The shake-up comes less than two weeks before the opening of the Sound of Music Festival (SOM), of which BPAC is the title sponsor. Cousins ​​and Foxx have been working closely together on this. Cassens noted that the partnership is a strategic move to help the experienced staff run the festival.

“We no longer have an internal team at SOM, and at that point, we will hire an internal team, but because BPAC is a strategic initiative and we have the resources, we feel we have adequate resources [to run SOM]”.

As early as 2022, the Sound of Music Festival applied for a short-term loan from the city, citing the loss of sponsors after the epidemic. 2023 city budget Added holidaysof grant funding and loan forgiveness (one-time funding).

Cussons described discussions surrounding the BPAC-SOM partnership as “kind of like a date” and said ultimately there was no memorandum of understanding between the two organizations. Instead, “Title Sponsorships” were created, allowing each organization to “check [the other] go out.

Cussons discussed his reasons for leaving SOM.

“As acting executive director and chairman, my goal and responsibility is to better position SOM for a better future,” Cussons said. “I believed a strategic partnership with BPAC would be a good move, but it turned into a full-time job. I also run a successful business, Rebel Car and other community work, including involvement with Halton Women’s Place. I know Tammy put in a lot of effort as well.

Cussons said that while working with SOM was beneficial, it began to take its toll on him.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” Cousins ​​said. “I also had to give up other things related to Rebel Car and I was unable to organize this year’s annual car show. I had to choose between my physical and mental health and SOM. My family has made it clear what choice should be made. I My own bandwidth has just been exhausted.

Dave Shepherd has taken over as Chairman of the SOM Board of Directors and discussed his new role.

“I have been on the festival board for a few years and am happy to step up and help as Steve leaves,” Shepherd said. “Fortunately, Steve and the executive board have organized this year so well that it has been a seamless transition. We wish Steve the best and thank him for his leadership.

Sheppard noted that Fox’s departure will not affect the festival; “BPAC is our title sponsor this year and they are a great addition to the festival.”

BPAC board chair Ken Smithard sent a memo to staff last week about Fox’s departure and sent it to when asked for comment.

“Tammy has notified the board of directors of her resignation from BPAC. Her departure is effective immediately,” Smithhard said. “We would like to thank Tammy for her seven years of service and wish her well in the next stage of her career. The search for a new Executive Director is ongoing. In the meantime, staff should continue to contact Vaughan Davis [Operations Manager] Serve as their primary point of contact.

Smithhard also said he would make “another announcement later this week regarding the new board members who joined us at our annual shareholder meeting last week.”

After Fox resigned, bay observer “A proposed partnership between BPAC and the Sound of Music Festival may have played a role in Foxx’s departure,” the report said, without specifying the source of the information.

BPAC has faced other challenges recently, particularly with its board of directors. A governance review was launched following recruitment issues and a lack of succession planning that resulted in a period without a chair or deputy chair following the outbreak.

Angelo Bentivegna, District 6 councilor and city representative on the BPAC board, launched the independent governance review last November, which was approved by the council. The release of more than $1 million in 2024 budget funding to BPAC is contingent on the implementation of this review and any resulting recommendations.

At the time, Fox tasked the Board of Trustees with supporting the governance review, noting that BPAC was “at a crossroads where our governance must evolve” and that certain “golden opportunities” had recently arisen for SOM and Sheridan College’s performing arts programs.

“Yet our current governance is hesitant about when it should cross over,” she told parliament.

Describing the board’s woes, Fox noted, “These governance challenges are impacting our ability to continue operating with excellence.”

In response to questions from the City Council, which included Ward 5 Councilman Paul Sharman’s positive comments about Fox’s performance at BPAC, Fox cited further challenges for the BPAC-SOM partnership, saying, “I haven’t been given clear direction yet. [from the board]”.

The review was conducted by governance expert Dr Richard Leblanc and handed over to the BPAC board in January this year. In March, board President Smith Harder issued a statement to the city saying the board voted unanimously to “adopt all recommendations in the report” and that while some projects have been completed in the report itself, “many others are in progress” and The recommendations it contains are confidential to the Board.

this burlington post A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to view the governance report was submitted to the City of Burlington but was denied.

Cousins ​​said he had “no idea” why Fox resigned, but he knew there were questions and he wanted answers.

“How many other local performing arts centers are hosting sold-out shows and profitable events?” Cassens said of Fox’s experience at BPAC. “I’m not sure they’ll find anyone else who shares her enthusiasm.”

We’ve reached out to Fox for comment and will update if we hear back, though Fox himself said during a delegation to the council in November, “I reaffirm my unwavering dedication to the Burlington Performing Arts Center.”

Jack Brittle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Burlington

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