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Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA) put a couple of "help wanted" notices out recently, aiming to replace its entire (three-person) staff and renovate its payroll budget. The job of Executive Director, which burned out previous occupants with sadistic regularity, has been expanded into two full-time positions: Program Director and Managing Director. As with the similar, recent, and exhaustively reported division of labor at On the Boards, the former handles the art, and the latter handles the money. (The positions came open, incidentally, when Executive Director Elizabeth Shepherd stepped down following the birth of her twins -- which makes two directors in a row lost to motherhood.) Payroll cuts will be achieved by making the assistant director and preparator positions into part time or contract jobs.
CoCA hasn't had a strong central focus on programming in recent years -- in fact, the large volunteer program committee (10 members currently) has to put together most of CoCA's shows. And while they've had some real successes recently (generally with shows focused on single artists like Kenji Yanobe or assembled by independent curators like Ralph Rugoff's At the Threshold of the Visible), CoCA has yet to completely purge itself of a kind of curation-by-committee that leads to overstuffed, vaguely defined shows like the recent Land/Use/Action. If the board can find a strong program director willing to work for around $30,000, it could mean a lot for the alternately interesting and frustrating institution.
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After 15 years of occasional chortles and innumerable shrugs and snores, local sketch comedy show Almost Live! has been canceled. I've never found the show particularly funny, despite the presence of talented comic actors who've proved their value elsewhere, including Matt Smith and Lauren Weedman, along with alumnus Bill Nye. What went wrong? Most basically, a slavish devotion to the format of Saturday Night Live -- from opening monologue to joke news report to the "Thanks a lot, we'll see you next week" curtain call -- that made the whole show feel like a bad case of deja vu. Except it came on before SNL, so I guess it'd be sera vu. I'm sad that Smith and Weedman won't be collecting KING 5 paychecks, but I'm glad Seattle will no longer have the latest-starting SNL in the country.
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