Plummer resigns 

In what one observer characterized as a “perfect storm,” the Arkansas Arts Center's expensive blockbuster “Pharaohs” exhibit turned bust. Its deputy director of operations — in charge of the books —got the axe, it's had to reduce staff, including altering a curatorial position to a contract arrangement, and on Monday, Executive Director Dr. Ellen (Nan) Plummer resigned.

Plummer, who in 2002 succeeded long-time director Townsend Wolfe, came to the Arts Center during the last wave of economic hard times — the Arts Center had just expanded after a capital campaign that included pledges of stock made before the Sept. 11 attack that sent the market plummeting — and had to make tough budget decisions that included closing the Decorative Arts Museum (the Terry Mansion), closing the Arts Center to the public on Mondays and charging an entrance fee to larger exhibits. In her tenure, the Arts Center put on exhibits of work by Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso and “Pharaohs: Treasures of Egypt Revealed.”

Tuesday, Plummer said she couldn't talk about her resignation, which took effect immediately. She said she was proud of her work at the Arts Center and praised the staff there. Bobby Tucker, chairman of the board of trustees for the Arts Center, said the board did not ask for Plummer's resignation. He confirmed the board had terminated deputy director Rocky Nickles, saying, “We weren't getting the information from him we should have.” He said curator of drawings Phaedra Siebert had left because she'd moved to Washington, D.C., with her new baby and husband and was now working on contract with the Arts Center. Laine Harber, formerly with Alltel and Windstream Communications, started work Friday at the Arts Center as Nickles' replacement.

The “Pharaohs” exhibit cost in excess of $2 million, though it had financial support from Warren and Harriet Stephens. Warren Stephens is head of the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation, which, Tucker said, has advanced the Arts Center operating funds during what's been a tough economy for all arts institutions. He said the Arts Center's finances are in good shape, but declined to say how much the foundation had advanced, adding the Arts Center had last Friday made a payment on the principal of the loan to the foundation. Was the “Pharaohs” exhibit, which Plummer and others had hoped would draw 300,000 but has reportedly drawn only 65,000, too ambitious for the Arts Center? “No,” Tucker said. He said the board expected the show to attract only 100,000 visitors, and by the end of its run in July it mostly likely would meet that number.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

  • New episode of Rock The Culture: "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is"

    In this week’s episode, Antwan Phillips and Rep. Charles Blake provide perspective and conversation on the City’s study to change the form of government, bond issues to improve quality of life, and Rep. Blake’s breakdown on the close of the legislative session. In addition, they provide rapid fire perspective on RockTopics. They also speak with Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. to discuss the first 100 days of his administration and his Little Rock 2020 Education Roadmap.
    • Apr 16, 2019
  • New episode of Rock The Culture: "You Want That Testimony"

    In this week’s episode, Antwan Phillips and Rep. Charles Blake provide perspective and conversation on the Central Arkansas Water’s efforts to secure additional fresh water sources, the Legislature’s attempt to extend the time that the State Board of Education can control the LRSD, and the location of LRPD’s license plate readers and security cameras.
    • Apr 8, 2019
  • New episode of Rock the Culture podcast: 'Comfortable Being Uncomfortable'

    In this week’s episode, Antwan and Charles provide perspective and conversation on the cancellation of Riverfest 2019 and the Arkansas Legislature’s new attempt to pass legislation to implement a voucher program.
    • Apr 1, 2019
  • More »

Latest in The Insider

  • All in the family

    Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • 'Circuit breaker' legal

    When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
    • Jan 30, 2013
  • Church goes to school in Conway

    An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.
    • Jan 23, 2013
  • More »

Most Recent Comments


© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation