I vow to not accept work at Victory Gardens unless the current Board resigns by July 18th.

I vow to not accept work at Victory Gardens unless the current Board resigns by July 18th.

July 7, 2022
Signatures: 1,929Next Goal: 2,500
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Why this petition matters

Dear Theater Community, 


WE DEMAND: The Board of Directors announce the intent to resign in full and assist with a peaceful transition of power that allows the theater to remain open.
The Board has until July 18 to make these changes. 

The following is a list of action items YOU can do to support VGT Artists, Staff and Leadership: 

"I, (name, occupation, location/organization), stand with the Artists, Staff and Leadership of Victory Gardens Theater. I vow to not accept work at this institution unless the current Board resigns . "


This theater is one of 6 Tony Award-winning theaters in Chicago. It is also one of the few theaters in the country dedicated to new work by marginalized playwrights. VG is too important to the Chicago Theater Community; we do not want to see it go under.


The Victory Gardens Board of Directors’ patterns of toxic behavior have made it impossible for this Black-led, mission-centric organization to succeed, leading to the loss of its leadership, the resignation of all resident artists, and a joint plea from staff and artists for the Board’s resignation and the reinstatement of Ken-Matt Martin as Artistic Director.

Ken-Matt Martin was hired to lead Victory Gardens in April 2021, after an extensive and inclusive search process. He took over a theater recovering from tumult, caused by previous decisions of the Board and also resulting in the mass resignation of the Playwrights Ensemble (LINK: https://medium.com/@ofvictorygardensplaywrights/letter-from-the-playwrights-of-victory-gardens-theater-fcbd3e1d1840 ). Since then, Ken-Matt, along with Acting Managing Director Roxanna Conner and the artists and staff of Victory Gardens have worked tirelessly to rebuild trust and to implement new programming and anti-racist policies to build a more equitable theater for the community. 

Despite hiring Ken-Matt Martin and Roxanna Conner to lead this organization, the Board has repeatedly ignored their advice, undermined their leadership, and dismissed their expertise, as well as remaining closed to expressed staff concerns. 

On July 5, 2022, the Chair of the VG Board informed the staff that Ken-Matt Martin was “on leave” as Artistic Director. The leave appears to be neither voluntary nor temporary.

Concurrently, the Board Chair informed the staff that the search for an Executive Director, which began in November 2021 and held finalist interviews in February 2022, had failed, with no candidates accepting the offered job. While VG waited for an Executive Director, 7 staff members resigned and were not replaced. A staff that included 22 full-time pre-pandemic staff now includes only 9 full-time non-executive employees. 

In the midst of the Executive Director search, the Board purchased the storefront next to Victory Gardens over the objections of the artistic leadership; meanwhile, the existing theater building is in a state of disrepair, with heating and cooling frequently broken, bathrooms regularly overflowing, and a chronically leaking roof–as well as major technical issues in both theaters.

In response to both ongoing misgovernance on the Board’s part, as well as the revelations of this week, the Playwrights Ensemble and Resident Directors resigned en masse - see their official statement here: https://isaacgomez.medium.com/we-resign-93c7b54158af 

On July 6, 2022, the 9 remaining Full-Time Non-Leadership Staff Members posted a statement of solidarity, calling for the resignation of the Board, on the official Victory Gardens social media pages. Those accounts were hijacked and posts subsequently removed while the staff were locked out of their social media accounts. See their statement on their alt instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cfr5-Pprb4i/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link


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Signatures: 1,929Next Goal: 2,500
Support now