The mood was tense through much of last Tuesday's meeting between supporters of fired On the Boards artistic director Mark Murphy and the organization's board of trustees. The event, held at Behnke Center, had been advertised by an On the Boards publicist as a "chance to get some factual information about the changes that have occurred here," but information was in short supply. The board sticks to its position that the events leading to Murphy's firing are matters which cannot be made public--and so basically, the public must trust that the right decision was made. As local filmmaker Gregg Lachow pointed out, this wiliness makes whatever the problem was seem more sinister: Was Murphy running a prostitution ring out of his office? Did the Mafia force the board to remove Murphy? One board member at least let it slip that Murphy did not embezzle money from On the Boards. What a relief....

A disturbing amount of West Coast psychobabble littered the proceedings: I heard the word "dysfunctional" more times than I care to count. Founding artistic director Robert McGinley, whose introductory presentation seemed designed to show that On the Boards is bigger than any one person, led off with a ridiculous extended reference to On the Boards' astrological chart, which featured "five trigger points in Pisces" in recent months.

Fortunately, the sometimes not-so-subdued anger of the artistic community and the defensive reactions of some wounded-sounding board members didn't prevent the evening from coming to some sort of rapprochement: by the end, an agreement had been secured for further meetings between board members and representatives of the artists' campaign, offering some hope of a negotiated reinstatement of Murphy. The oddest note of the evening: Murphy was there, unnoticed by artists and board alike, in a wig and a trench coat. Two days later, Murphy's supporters demonstrated outside Behnke Center, while inside, Rennie Harris and his hiphop dance company Puremovement wore T-shirts reading "Mark Murphy: The Heart of On The Boards." At the curtain call, they chanted his name like a dance-floor mantra.

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The competition to design the new downtown library reached its critical stages early this week. The remaining candidates spent three days in town, giving public presentations and interviewing with the advisory panel. The process was simplified when two firms pulled out last week: Cesar Pelli and Sir Norman Foster removed their short-listed firms from the competition, leaving Zimmer-Gunsul-Frasca, Steven Holl, and Office for Metropolitan Architecture--the last two of whom have always been the most interesting of the candidates--to fight it out. The architect selection advisory panel gives their recommendation to the library board on May 18.

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The Constitution for the Arts published by Allied Arts in the P-I Focus section of last Sunday's Times marks a smart shift in the way major local organizations should think about local artistic production. The Constitution mixes recommendations of increased percent-for-art funding and more support for small arts organizations with a section aimed at preserving the vitality of Seattle's night life, and the musicians and other artists who are supported by it. Any lessening of the challenges offered by an increasing number of laws restricting nightlife, from new noise ordinances to burdensome regulations on all-ages events, would be welcome.