In Arts News

CoCA: Nuts!

It's a hat trick for CoCA, but far from a win. Program Director Katie Kurtz is leaving as of October 13, and so is her right-hand woman, Jordan Howland. This, following the departure in June of Managing Director Steve Tremble, leaves CoCA virtually staff-less, except for one recently hired assistant.

Kurtz, who leaves after 14 months at CoCA, cites total exhaustion as her reason for leaving--a combination of running the nonprofit contemporary-art space on a shoestring, a mostly recalcitrant board not attentive to both the staff's and the organization's needs, and back-to-back programming that left no time to catch her breath, let alone build the kind of knowledge necessary to plan the kinds of events CoCA wants to present. "Jordan and I have been doing this for 10 programs," Kurtz said, "and each one was different, requiring a different set of skills and knowledge, and new funding--it's wringing blood out of the same rock every time."

Although Kurtz stresses there are a handful of board members who are very involved not only in CoCA's larger programming decisions but also in its day-to-day needs, in general the staff is left to fend for itself. And there's been a kind of mass exodus from the board as well: More than half the members have left or taken a leave of absence over the last two months.

So the embattled CoCA has a lot of work to do. The lease on its Belltown space is up at the end of the year (the building is slated for demolition), and a new Capitol Hill space is being considered. In the meantime, a search is beginning for Kurtz's replacement, and recruitment efforts have begun in order to rebuild the board. And this doesn't begin to address the question of CoCA's programming, which has come under fire for not being supportive enough of local artists. As for Kurtz, before deciding on her next step, she'll take some long-overdue time off. "I had to quit to get a vacation," she said dryly. EMILY HALL

Big Fat "Collaboration"

Much hoopla is being spread that Seattle Repertory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, and the Empty Space are pulling together to help present a new adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet by famed British director Peter Brook, whose nine-hour production of the Indian epic The Mahabarata made every critic in the world go all gushy several years ago. The Kreielsheimer Foundation is kicking in $100,000 toward the event as well, which will have 14 performances in the Mercer Arena in April of 2001 as part of its tour around the world. While Brook is unquestionably a great director, this production amounts to nothing more or less than a highbrow touring show, and the diversion of resources from these institutions represents the kind of craven starfucking that keeps Seattle theaters from forging a meaningful identity for themselves. BRET FETZER