Ousted Trustee Describes “Culture of Fear” at Asheville Art Museum
According to the Asheville Watchdog, vandals removed letters from the Asheville Art Museum sign to read “A HELL Artwork MUSEUM.” (photograph courtesy Asheville Watchdog)

An Asheville Museum of Art board member and volunteer docent who spoke publicly about allegations of employee mistreatment at the museum has been ousted from her article, the Asheville Watchdog noted. Previous trustee Michelle Weitzman statements her removing was a retaliatory motion by the North Carolina institution’s director, Pamela Myers, subsequent an extensive investigation by the Watchdog into accusations of verbal and emotional hostility and a “toxic” place of work at the North Carolina institution.

Weitzman was the only trustee to give an on-the-record interview for the November 9 write-up, in which she attested to a “culture of fear in employees” and “horrendous” morale and attrition — observations echoed by personnel interviewed by the Watchdog and by Hyperallergic.

It is been a 7 days due to the fact the Watchdog’s first report achieved the community eye, and a active 7 days at that. At a associates appreciation function at the Asheville Artwork Museum the night right after the write-up arrived out, 1 event-goer, Monica Krider, reportedly requested Michelle Weitzman if Myers was current, seeking to communicate to her pertaining to the allegations. A verbal altercation in between Krider and Myers ensued, with Myers telling Krider, “You’re in my house.”

Michelle Weizman, a previous trustee at the Asheville Art Museum in North Carolina (employed with authorization)

Weitzman explained she basically assisted place out Myers to the visitor, but was informed by the board through her termination assembly that her behavior that night and her talking up on behalf of the staff experienced “compromised” the health of the institution and “tainted the impression of the museum.”

In an job interview with Hyperallergic, Weitzman stated that as a board member, she felt compelled to speak up following she was privy to the problems and considerations of museum team.

“That’s what Board customers are meant to do,” she said. “And I felt that I was in a powerful more than enough position. All they could do was let go of me, mainly because I was not a compensated staff, I was a volunteer docent. I had no purpose to say just about anything but the real truth.”

A representative for the Asheville Artwork Museum declined to remark on Weitzman’s removal and workers’ allegations.

Candace Reilly, a previous grownup programs manager who was employed in 2013 and resigned in 2015, explained her time at the museum as “abusive.”

“I signify, her intent is to disparage you and embarrass you and make you come to feel modest, and she did a really excellent job at that,” Reilly instructed Hyperallergic, speaking about her confrontations with Myers. Reilly wrote a letter to the director citing her causes for leaving. “Pam [Myers] pulled me into the office environment with the board chair and ripped into me. She made me feel like I was worthless,” Reilly mentioned.

When she escalated the make a difference to the board of trustees, a board member reportedly instructed Reilly that “they ended up under no circumstances going to get rid of Pam, she’s just as well beneficial.”

Reilly also statements that the museum predicted every person to get the job done overtime, and that 40 additional time hours could be cashed in as 5 days of PTO (paid time off). She reported that most men and women fatigued people 40 hrs by March, and overtime outside of that went devoid of enhanced wages. “When we counted up the time worked, such as time beyond regulation hrs with no further compensation, it looked like we were generating 7 dollars an hour at the finish of the working day.”

Lindsey Grossman, the museum’s previous communications supervisor involving 2019 and 2020, reported Myers experienced a inclination in direction of “berating and belittling” workforce. “She had a habit of generating you feel compact,” Grossman explained to Hyperallergic.

Grossman resigned right after making an attempt unsuccessfully to negotiate a additional amenable work timetable all through the pandemic, when her two young children had been adapting to virtual learning. She filed for unemployment to get via that time, but the museum contested that she had resigned for personalized explanations, interfering with her skill to get hold of financial guidance. Grossman was requested to return above $7K in unemployment added benefits that her family had already put in — she is now preventing to have the determination reconsidered.

“I however do not know why they would do this to me,” Grossman said.

Several previous board customers have corroborated employees’ allegations, and 5 trustees resigned from their posts this spring. David Huff, a trustee from 2020 to 2022, spoke at size in the Watchdog’s report about the social local weather of the board. Although there were being confined interactions amongst the board and museum staff, the repeated use of text like “traumatic,” “gaslighting,” and “psychologically abusive relationship” in letters from previous staff members clued him in that this wasn’t just a case of conventional micromanagement.

“Pam does not like to be challenged,” Huff instructed Hyperallergic, following he and his co-trustee Darren Green started inquiring about Human Sources insurance policies and personnel welfare. He stated he commenced to see parallels between the reactions he would get from the Board and Myers when he rose issues and what previous employees would report about their activities.

Huff claims he was omitted from the committee of board members wanting into employee issues soon after he and Eco-friendly consistently raised the issue. “It was like a activity of Whack-A-Mole,” Huff continued. “Ask issues, get punished.” Huff also pointed to Myers’s and the board’s difficulty incorporating variety, equity, accessibility, and inclusion principles — a sector that rose to prominence through the 2020 Black Lives Make any difference protests in reaction to the murder of George Floyd. He recounted to both of those Hyperallergic and the Watchdog that the board’s decision to remove the only Black girl and co-chair of the equity committee, Terri Sigler, through her short term relocation to New Jersey was the nail in the coffin for him, Sigler, and the 3 others who place in their letters resignation at the exact time very last May well.

Weitzman has a person hope for the Asheville Art Museum: “I want to see Pam [Myers] resign and the Board bring on a new executive director. That’s what every person wants — at minimum people who are not in Pam’s camp. I don’t have confidence in this board, but you cannot fireplace everyone. I sincerely hope they do the right issue.”

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