The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture fired its executive director on Tuesday, less than a year after recruiting him to Spokane.
Forrest B. Rodgers confirmed that the executive committee of the museum’s board terminated him on Tuesday. It’s unclear if the museum’s full board voted on the termination.
Rodgers said he wasn’t fired for cause and was told that the board was looking for a new direction.
“I was surprised by the lack of process, the decision and the timing,” Rodgers said. “I know that there were different views about how to manage the museum’s uncertain finances.”
Rodgers, 60, was hired last summer and started his new job Aug. 1 after years of financial turmoil at the museum. He is the former president and CEO of the High Desert Museum in Bend, Ore., and former executive director of the Central Washington University Foundation.
Chris Schnug, the president of the museum’s board, declined to explain Rodgers’ departure.
“This is an ongoing personnel matter, and I’m not at liberty to provide any more details at this moment,” Schnug said.
John Drexel, the museum’s chief financial officer, was named interim executive director. He is the fifth person to lead the museum within the past five years.
Rodgers said the board proposed a termination agreement, which he is reviewing with an attorney.
“I am proud of the work toward the two most critical goals that I was recruited to achieve,” Rodgers said.
Those goals, he said, were stabilizing the museum’s funding and “improving our mission performance – that is to say, increasing attendance and our community engagement.”
“We shifted our focus from exhibits to creating a more engaging, family-friendly experience,” he said.
Rodgers said he had been asked in the past six weeks to prepare recommendations for stabilizing the museum’s finances for the board’s May 2 meeting. Rodgers said he has mostly completed his concepts for the report, but “apparently they don’t reflect the leadership the executive committee seeks.”
“The MAC is really important to this region,” Rodgers said. “It has significant challenges ahead of it, and it really needs strong and enthusiastic support and financial support from the community.”