BRATTLEBORO — In a move that is bound to send shock waves around the international circus world, the board of directors of the New England Center for Circus Arts has removed founders Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion as artistic directors.
The news was announced during public comments at the Brattleboro Select Board meeting Tuesday night by Sam Payne, who moved to Brattleboro with his wife, Sandra Feusi, for the express purpose of coaching at NECCA.
“NECCA is in a state of crisis,” said Payne. “The board of directors has focused its efforts on removing Elsie and Serenity and they did so yesterday.”
Payne also accused the board of meeting secretly and with less than a full complement of board members.
Pat Howell, who is on NECCA’s public relations and development committee confirmed to the Reformer that the sisters “were separated from employment with NECCA for reasons I cannot disclose legally at this point in time. However,” said Howell, “the board did offer an option that would allow for their continued involvement with NECCA but we haven’t received a response yet.”
Two calls to board members were not returned to the Reformer by early Tuesday evening. Michael C Helmstadter, the current executive director of NECCA, whose wife, Tracy Prentiss, is also a member of the board, declined to comment at this time.
“NECCA is one of the jewels in the Brattleboro crown,” Payne told the Select Board. “We are asking if you care about the circus, please get involved.”
Link to Full Article at Brattleboro Reformer.
Sign the petition in support of Elsie and Serenity here.