Fletcher returns to Aspen Music Festival through September
November 12, 2009
ASPEN – The Alan Fletcher situation at the Aspen Music Festival and School became clearer Wednesday. Ever so slightly clearer.
The Music Festival made a brief statement regarding the status of Fletcher, the organization’s president and CEO who was abruptly fired in mid-October, and whose rehiring has been the subject of rumors and off-the-record chatter for the past week.
The statement confirmed what had been reported in The Aspen Times on Tuesday: that following a meeting of the festival’s board of trustees last Wednesday, Fletcher “was offered a contract to continue as president and CEO through September 2010, which includes provisions governing any extension for future seasons.” The announcement said that “no further information can be released at this time while [the Music Festival] and Fletcher work out the details.” It concluded that more information would be forthcoming as soon as it is available.
Announcements from the Music Festival that are skimpy on details have become the norm in this episode surrounding the top administrative position at Aspen’s biggest arts organization. On Oct. 13, a statement from the Music Festival said that Fletcher, who had led the festival since early 2006, would be “stepping down” effective Oct. 31; the announcement avoided mention of whether Fletcher had resigned or been fired. It included no statement from Fletcher or from any member of the board, and made no mention of the fact that Fletcher’s contract had been extended earlier this year to run through the 2010 summer festival season. It did say that a search committee to select a successor would be formed immediately.
The Aspen Times subsequently learned that Fletcher was fired by the executive committee of the board. Members of the larger board then forced a vote on the matter by the full body; the board voted to extend an offer to rehire Fletcher.
His job performance became a matter of public debate late this past summer, when a handful of festival audience members complained in letters to the editor of the local newspapers that Fletcher snubbed certain concertgoers. Fletcher has also acknowledged that conflict had arisen inside the festival – in particular between himself and David Zinman, the festival’s music director – over the issue of laying off faculty members. Reducing the size of the faculty, along with shortening the summer festival season and reducing the size of the student body, had been part of a strategic plan adopted by the organization last spring.