An arts advocacy group in Rochester is calling for the resignation of the Rochester Civic Theatre’s board officers after allegations of sexual harassment by the theater’s former executive director were made public.
The Friends of the Rochester Civic Theatre says the board ignored the problem even after someone reported harassment nearly a decade ago and that the board also misrepresented the organization’s finances. Executive Director Gregory Stavrou resigned his position in April.
Many of the allegations were known privately by longtime theater volunteers, said Friends spokesman Tommy Rinkoski. Several women alleged sexual harassment in a report published Thursday by Minnesota Public Radio.
The Friends of the Rochester Civic Theatre, which claims 200 members, submitted written testimony to the theater’s board in March calling for Stavrou’s firing. The materials included allegations from several people of unwanted sexual advances, according to Rinkoski and MPR.
Stavrou could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Rinkoski said a Friends petition calling for new board leadership has gathered 500 signatures so far. Outgoing board Chairwoman Heather Holmes could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The Friends group opened a website, iamtherct.org, on which it published information about the board controversy and theater’s finances. According to its calculations, the theater lost $250,000 from 2008 to 2014. The theater receives financial support from the city of Rochester.
Faced with the theater’s financial problems, along with those of other local arts organizations, including the Rochester Art Center, the Rochester City Council Monday considered a new set of rules for local nonprofits that receive public dollars. The measure calls for stricter accounting of public money and the release of annual audits, among other things.
The Rochester Civic Theater, founded in 1951, has seven productions scheduled for the 2017-2018 performance season.