South Willimasport Director Dismissed In Wake Of Spamalot Controversy

According to a 9/19/2014 article by Howard Sherman, the drama director at South Williamsport Area Junior/Senior High School in Pennsylvania, Dawn Burch, was fired from her position. If you’re just coming into this controversy, South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Junior/Senior High School administrators canceled an upcoming production of Monty Python’s Spamalot that Burch
was set to direct due to what the school’s principal, Jesse Smith, described as “homosexual themes ” (details).

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-017Sherman’s article reports that Burch was dismissed via email and told that the decision was due to “job performance.” If that sounds suspiciously like retaliation to you, Sherman would likely agree.

It doesn’t take a detective to figure out what’s really going on. At the beginning of July, Burch asserted that her musical choice for this school year, Spamalot, had been nixed by the school due to its gay content. School officials vehemently denied that was the case.

At the time this article was written, Sherman’s post has garnered more than 100 comments and as before I encourage readers to contact Principal Smith and Superintendent Stamm via their South Williamsport Area School District email addresses to express your views in light of this recent development.

  • Principal Jesse Smith:
  • Superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm:

[ilink url=”” style=”download”]Email documents provided via Right to Know law.[/ilink]

[ilink url=”” style=”download”]Spamalot’ emails revealing School leaders explain decision-making’ 8/31/2014 Williamsport Sun-Gazette[/ilink]

[ilink url=”” style=”download”]Filers seek inclusion, open conversation; 8/31/2014 Williamsport Sun-Gazette[/ilink]

[ilink url=”” style=”note”]”Homosexual Themes” Get Pennsylvania School Production of Spamalot Canned; Slate, 8/26/2014[/ilink]

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment