September 8, 2023 | NEWS | By Charlotte Maley
The Fine Arts Center at Colorado College has received a great deal of media attention over the past few years for its chronic administrative instability. In just three years, the arts hub has seen five rotations of prominent leaders within the facility, four of whom left shortly and unexpectedly after being appointed. Most recently, former artistic director Pirronne Yousefzadeh announced her resignation on Facebook last year, citing allegations against Colorado College.
It was revealed in an article by The Gazette, which was released just two months after her departure, that Yousefzadeh left her position due to the FAC’s instability and questions about CC’s commitment to anti-racism.
She told the publication, “I gradually discovered the ways in which the leadership and I were not in alignment in how we define our anti-racist values, and how we believe those values should manifest in process, policies and of course, programming.”
Yousefzadeh, who is a woman of color and the child of Iranian immigrants, stated that it’s important to her that the institution that she works for adopts anti-racist values “more fully and deeply.” Yousefzadeh was not able to be reached for additional comment.
As only one of multiple leaders to have left the FAC’s leadership team in the last couple of years, Yousefzadeh was not the only one to describe issues with the relationship between the center and the college. Scott Levy, the former artistic director, stated that one of the reasons he left the FAC was due to the “new level of bureaucracy that the Fine Arts Center adopted upon the alliance with the college that was no longer more positive than negative.”
However, Levy added that his departure in no way related to concerns similar to Yousefzadeh. He stated that, at the FAC, “there was definitively a growth and commitment in the culture to align with the anti-racist program at the college.” He added, “I think that, historically, the program at large has been more anti-racist than some people believe it to have been.”
According to Manya Whitaker, a member of CC’s office of the president, “The college, including the FAC, continues to prioritize our goal of becoming an anti-racist institution. We are very excited about the direction the FAC’s new executive director, Nicole Herden, is taking the FAC.”
She added that the appointment of Chris Sheley as producing artistic director was a “major step” toward achieving the FAC’s Antiracism Diversity Equity and Inclusion goals.
Whitaker noted that the FAC has put on quite a few programs and events with the anti-racist curriculum in mind during this school year alone, such as the introduction of the Send a Student Program and the car show for an opening of Mi Gente. “We are only in Block 1 and already, the FAC has demonstrated the extent to which anti-racism is integral to their collective work and to our shared community.”