After two years running literary center Richard Hugo House, Sue Joerger has resigned as its executive director, effective July 1. The news comes shortly after Seattle Art Museum announced that its director, Derrick Cartwright, was also stepping down after two years on the job; Intiman Theatre cancelled its remaining 2011 season; Giant Magnet announced that this would be its final year; and Seattle Shakespeare Company lost—and re-gained—its managing director. Yes, execs come and go, and arts organizations will flounder, but this is starting to feel as recession-nasty as gas prices.
Here’s an excerpt of Joerger’s resgination letter, via @HugoHouse on Twitter. More on this later.
May 19, 2011
Dear Friends of Richard Hugo House,
I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign as Executive Director of Richard Hugo House, effective July 1. This was a very difficult decision for me, but with Richard Hugo House in a much stronger position than when I arrived, I believe that the House has a bright future—filled with talented staff and teachers, committed students, lively events and a strong community of writers.
Managing a nonprofit in these economic times is challenging. How do you meet the ever growing and changing needs of writers, while experiencing significant reductions in funding from all sectors including donors, foundations, government and corporations? How do you keep classes affordable and provide enough scholarships to meet the growing need? And, how do you provide access to Hugo House when you can no longer afford a facility manager?
In spite of these significant challenges, I am happy to report that Hugo House ended 2010 in the black for the first time in the last five years. I am very proud of this accomplishment.
… (She lists Hugo House’s accomplishments in the past year, which you can read in full here.)
As for me, I’m not quite ready to announce what is next, but it is certain to have something to do with writing and my commitment to telling the untold stories about Puget Sound. In the meantime, I’m working on my summer reading list, based on the writers we’ve invited to the next Hugo Literary Series, perusing the summer quarter catalogue for a writing class (I know I can finish that essay!) and getting my boat ready to sail north.
It is my intention to provide a smooth transition to new leadership by working closely with my talented staff. The staff and Board of Hugo House are dedicated to its future, and I am confident that this organization will continue to thrive, offering a haven to writers and readers in our community.
John Burgess—the new president of the board of directors, as of June 1—said in a statement that a search committee is working to find a new executive director by early fall.