The board of directors at Tacoma Little Theatre asked artistic director David Duvall to resign Wednesday morning, Duvall confirmed today. Duvall, who had held the position for 16 months, gave financial troubles and board dissatisfaction with his management style as reasons for the departure.
“The fit was not working for either the board or myself,” said Duvall.
The recent history of the 90-year-old community theater has been difficult. Box office manager Gini Hawkins resigned last August, to be replaced by her assistant. Business manager Cory Chapo, who collaborated with Duvall in overall management, left in December. Chapo’s position was left unfilled. Production manager Kevin Myers also left, and his technical and production duties were assumed by Duvall.
Audiences for the theater’s musical productions had dropped over the last three years from an average of 80-85% of seats filled to around 60% this spring, Duvall said, while staff “regularly went on half-salary” and independent contractors “often had to wait a long time to be paid.”
Duvall attributes the drop in attendance to audience aging and says that while he had been programming shows to appeal to younger audiences, such a turnaround “in my opinion takes more than 16 months” to achieve.
“Not being at TLT anymore reminds me of when I lost custody of my children,” said Duvall, who had worked for the theater as an occasional director for a decade prior to his appointment as artistic director. “Working with the regular performers has been the best thing during my time here.”
Duvall says he’s “at peace” with the board’s decision, since he’ll now have time to work on private artistic projects he’s not had time for. “I took the TLT job because I wanted to return the theater to its glory days,” he says. “But I’m fine with this decision.”