Ousted Trustee Describes “Tradition of Worry” at Asheville Artwork Museum

In keeping with the Asheville Watchdog, vandals eliminated letters from the Asheville Artwork Museum signal to learn “A HELL ART MUSEUM.” (picture courtesy Asheville Watchdog)

An Asheville Museum of Artwork board member and volunteer docent who spoke publicly about allegations of employee mistreatment on the museum has been ousted from her submit, the Asheville Watchdog reported. Former trustee Michelle Weitzman claims her elimination was a retaliatory motion by the North Carolina establishment’s director, Pamela Myers, following an extensive investigation by the Watchdog into accusations of verbal and emotional hostility and a “poisonous” office on the North Carolina establishment.

Weitzman was the one trustee to offer an on-the-record interview for the November 9 article, by which she attested to a “tradition of worry in workers” and “horrendous” morale and attrition — observations echoed by employees interviewed by the Watchdog and by Hyperallergic.

It’s been per week because the Watchdog’s preliminary report reached the general public eye, and a busy week at that. At a members appreciation occasion on the Asheville Artwork Museum the evening after the article got here out, one event-goer, Monica Krider, reportedly requested Michelle Weitzman if Myers was current, wanting to talk to her relating to the allegations. A verbal altercation between Krider and Myers ensued, with Myers telling Krider, “You’re in my home.”

Michelle Weizman, a former trustee on the Asheville Artwork Museum in North Carolina (used with permission)

Weitzman mentioned she merely helped level out Myers to the customer, however was instructed by the board throughout her termination assembly that her habits that night and her talking up on behalf of the staff had “compromised” the well being of the establishment and “tainted the picture of the museum.”

In an interview with Hyperallergic, Weitzman mentioned that as a board member, she felt compelled to talk up after she was aware about the complaints and considerations of museum workers.

“That’s what Board members are presupposed to do,” she mentioned. “And I felt that I used to be in a robust sufficient place. All they may do was let go of me, as a result of I wasn’t a paid worker, I used to be a volunteer docent. I had no purpose to say something however the fact.”

A consultant for the Asheville Artwork Museum declined to touch upon Weitzman’s elimination and employees’ allegations.

Candace Reilly, a former grownup packages supervisor who was employed in 2013 and resigned in 2015, described her time on the museum as “abusive.”

“I imply, her intent is to disparage you and embarrass you and make you’re feeling small, and he or she did an excellent job at that,” Reilly instructed Hyperallergic, talking about her confrontations with Myers. Reilly wrote a letter to the director citing her causes for leaving. “Pam [Myers] pulled me into the workplace with the board chair and ripped into me. She made me really feel like I used to be nugatory,” Reilly mentioned.

When she escalated the matter to the board of trustees, a board member reportedly instructed Reilly that “they had been by no means going to do away with Pam, she’s simply too invaluable.”

Reilly additionally claims that the museum anticipated everybody to work time beyond regulation, and that 40 time beyond regulation hours might be cashed in as 5 days of PTO (paid time without work). She mentioned that most individuals exhausted these 40 hours by March, and time beyond regulation past that went with out elevated wages. “After we counted up the time labored, together with time beyond regulation hours with no further compensation, it seemed like we had been making seven {dollars} an hour on the finish of the day.”

Lindsey Grossman, the museum’s former communications supervisor between 2019 and 2020, mentioned Myers had an inclination in direction of “berating and belittling” workers. “She had a behavior of creating you’re feeling small,” Grossman instructed Hyperallergic.

Grossman resigned after making an attempt unsuccessfully to barter a extra amenable work schedule through the pandemic, when her two youngsters had been adapting to digital studying. She filed for unemployment to get by way of that point, however the museum contested that she had resigned for private causes, interfering along with her skill to acquire monetary help. Grossman was ordered to return over $7K in unemployment advantages that her household had already spent — she is at present preventing to have the choice reconsidered.

“I nonetheless don’t know why they might do that to me,” Grossman mentioned.

A number of former board members have corroborated workers’ allegations, and 5 trustees resigned from their posts this spring. David Huff, a trustee from 2020 to 2022, spoke at size within the Watchdog’s report concerning the social local weather of the board. Although there have been restricted interactions between the board and museum workers, the repeated use of phrases like “traumatic,” “gaslighting,” and “psychologically abusive relationship” in letters from former workers clued him in that this wasn’t only a case of ordinary micromanagement.

“Pam does not prefer to be challenged,” Huff instructed Hyperallergic, after he and his co-trustee Darren Inexperienced started inquiring about Human Sources insurance policies and worker welfare. He mentioned he started to see parallels between the reactions he would get from the Board and Myers when he rose questions and what former workers would report about their experiences.

Huff claims he was omitted from the committee of board members wanting into worker considerations after he and Inexperienced repeatedly raised the problem. “It was like a recreation of Whack-A-Mole,” Huff continued. “Ask questions, get punished.” Huff additionally pointed to Myers’s and the board’s issue incorporating variety, fairness, accessibility, and inclusion rules — a sector that rose to prominence through the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in response to the homicide of George Floyd. He recounted to each Hyperallergic and the Watchdog that the board’s choice to take away the one Black girl and co-chair of the fairness committee, Terri Sigler, throughout her non permanent relocation to New Jersey was the nail within the coffin for him, Sigler, and the three others who put of their letters resignation on the similar time final Might.

Weitzman has one hope for the Asheville Artwork Museum: “I wish to see Pam [Myers] resign and the Board deliver on a brand new government director. That’s what everybody desires — a minimum of those that aren’t in Pam’s camp. I don’t belief this board, however you possibly can’t fireplace everybody. I sincerely hope they do the suitable factor.”