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Fired director sues Spokane Civic Theatre

Mon., July 22, 2013, 3:26 p.m.

The fired executive artistic director of the Spokane Civic Theatre is filing a $2 million lawsuit against the theater’s board and three of its members this afternoon.

Yvonne A.K. Johnson was fired July 12 - about a month after the civic theatre’s board gave her a $7,000 bonus and said in her annual evaluation that the theater’s record-setting ticket sales were due to her “hard work and diligence.”

Larry Wooley, who became board president July 1, emailed board members on July 10 asking them to vote on whether to terminate Johnson, a request that surprised many board members.

Johnson’s attorney, Bob Dunn, said he is filing a lawsuit this afternoon against the theater, Wooley and board members Robert Mielbrecht and Robert Francis.

The theater announced that Johnson was fired two days after Wooley asked board members to vote. The board has not released the final tally supporting her termination. Nor has it provided reasons.

On June 10, the board’s four-member executive committee presented Johnson with a glowing employee evaluation that said she put the theater on solid financial ground and brought to the Civic’s two stages “the highest quality shows.” It praised her fundraising, management, artistic and other efforts and said she continued to implement the board’s vision.

Dunn is the same attorney who represented Forrest Rodgers, the executive director of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, after he was fired by the museum’s board last year. Rodgers ultimately was rehired. Dunn also represented Mike Tedesco, who was fired as the executive director of the Downtown Spokane Partnership. The partnership settled the dispute for an undisclosed amount of money.

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