Two weeks ago, Broadway Utica Executive Director Derek Clark appeared on the Keeler Show complaining of an ongoing dispute between his organization and the Stanley Theatre. He claimed his board and the Stanley’s board don’t communicate, and for the most part, consider each other bitter rivals. He said, the situation has gotten so bad that he’s had to include his attorney, J.K. Hage and that they were considering legal action because of slanderous remarks that were being made publicly. Clark said that he offered to participate in third-party mediation and says that the Stanley declined. 

The rift seemed to reach a new peak as Broadway Utica aired the dispute publicly on the radio, which they say was in reaction to the Stanley’s press event the day prior in which they didn’t include Broadway Utica shows as part of their new schedule and according to Clark, surprised him with the announcement of three Broadway shows of their own, that will actually compete with the 2019-20 Broadway Utica schedule.  

WIBX reached out to the Stanley Theatre and newly appointed director, Lisa Wilsey to respond and she and other members of the board said they would not speak about the issue publicly. Meanwhile as you might expect, people close to the Stanley tell a very different story from the one delivered by Clark and his attorney.  On Thursday, we asked County Executive Anthony Picente about the matter and he said he’s speaking with both sides and hopes to have the opportunity to work with both organizations to help resolve the matter.  

We believe that there is no dispute big enough to come in between these two very important organizations. Whether it’s a personality conflict, financial issues or an altercation that happened between the two parties, there is no room for this kind of dispute in a city the size of Utica. Both the Stanley Theatre and Broadway Utica rely on public and private financial support and this community enjoys a perceived ownership in both. Both provide entertainment to the Mohawk Valley that is likely over performing for a community this size and both serve as an economic driver for the region.   

The fact is, no matter what happened in the past, it’s time for these two public boards to put it all in the rear view mirror and begin a constructive dialogue that lays the groundwork to move efficiently, financially and effectively forward for the good of this community. Not one board member, employee or volunteer from either of these organizations should allow their personal conflict or pride to get in the way of resolving this dispute. While you both argue over which one you needs the other most, you should keep in mind that neither one of your organizations can survive without the support of the public. 

Our hope is that if you can’t resolve this on your own that you employ the expertise of another local non-profit for help; the Peacemaker Program is tailor made for a problem like this. They can be reached at 315-724-1718.

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