The Erasure of Ego from the Black Cultural Institution

Screenshot from the original NYTimes article, April 6, 2021
  • September 2017 — Rob Fields hired as Interim Executive Director
  • April 2018 — Partners in a grant have a major delay in payment due to a lack of oversight by senior staff
  • April 30, 2018 — Rob Fields posts inappropriate tweets targeting staff which was followed by an IG post that has been since deleted (after the request of senior staff) that stated he “understood why new Executive Directors get rid of current staff and start anew”. No apology was offered to staff.
  • May 2018 — Board chair comes to Weeksville to have a closed-door staff meeting discussing grievances with Rob’s leadership
  • June 2018 — Resignation of Operations Manager
  • July 2018 — Resignation of Development Director
  • July 2018 — Staff requests a 2-day professional development summit in August. Followed up again in September 2018. There was no response to these requests and the summit did not happen.
  • September 11, 2018 — Staff organized to create a document listing grievances and demands
  • October 17, 2018 — Announcement of payroll delay
  • October 18, 2018 — Staff requested a meeting with Rob and spoke to the difficulties of working with him and his lack of transparency and leadership
  • December 2018 — Community Engagement Manager fired with no reasoning and no delegation of their tasks to staff, beginning a trend of not retaining or replacing staff positions
  • February 28, 2019 — Hours and expenses cut; informed of the previous misallocation of grants that should have funded programs through the end of 2019
  • March 15, 2019 — Email from Rob: “things are not so certain, and, at this point, cuts to hours and staffing are unavoidable.”
  • April 2019 — WHC Board requests written statement from fired Community Engagement Manager documenting the breakdown between Rob and staff
  • April 30, 2019 — Save Weeksville Campaign launches
  • February 13, 2020- Staff issues a letter of grievance to the board requesting Rob’s removal and later meets with the Board
  • April 2020 — Resignation of Rob Fields’ Executive Assistant
  • April 2020 — The Board initiates executive search process
  • January 22, 2021 — Rob sent out an email to the Weeksville community announcing his departure: “While this may seem sudden, I can assure you it’s not. Last June, after we completed our Strategic Plan, I informed the Board of my desire to transition, and agreed to stay on while they searched for a successor.”
  • Support Weeksville financially, become a Board member, volunteer, or participate in its programs, many of which are free to the community
  • Listen to Black cultural workers and stand in solidarity with worker-led movements
  • Reshare this open letter on your social media platforms and within your networks
  • Continue to focus on the collective work needed to sustain Black institutions
  • Support and donate to Black Art Futures Fund, an organization founded and led by Black women that extends grants and emergency funding to Black arts & culture institutions across the country

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Humble Hunterfly

Humble Hunterfly

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A call to accountability in solidarity with Black arts workers,