NAT releases top employees

NAT releases top employees

By Amanda Carlson, Staff Writer

The New American Theater (NAT) unexpectadly released two of its top employees in what NAT Board Chairman Charles Granneman said is an attempt to move the theater to a higher level of artistic and organizational development.

Jan Bacino, box office and group sales manager, and Richard Raether, artistic director, have been fired within the last two weeks. Bacino was allegedly fired because of a lack of customer service, and Raether was allegedly fired because of his lack of fund-raising. When asked whether an artistic director is responsible for fund-raising, Granneman said, “An artistic director is involved in fund-raising.” When asked how, Granneman said he could not answer.

Bacino, who learned of her termination through a meeting with Granneman, said the news was surprising and unexpected.

“Sometimes you get the feeling something is in the works, but I never got that feeling,” Bacino said. “It was a shock, a total shock.”

Bacino didn’t go into specifics of the meeting or what the exact reasons were in her termination, but said: “They had their reasons and I may not agree with them. He spelled it out for me and that was that. Totally unexpected.” Bacino worked for NAT for 16 years.

Raether, who was unavailable for comment, served as artistic director the last two seasons, according to a press release issued by NAT.

“We welcome him back in the future as a guest director, and we thank him for his many contributions to the growth of New American Theater over the years,” Granneman said.

When asked to elaborate on the termination of Bacino and Raether, Granneman said, “I have nothing to add.”

The sudden re-vamping of the NAT staff may have something to do with the board’s plans for the theater’s future. Granneman said he would like to see NAT do more cutting edge shows that challenge the audience, something similar to Chicago’s Steppenwolf Mainstage Theatre. Granneman said: “We want to expand the visibility of the NAT” and “get people to trust the artistic presentation of the theater.”

No matter what the changes, however, Granneman said the NAT plans to remain downtown.

“NAT has been quite successful downtown, and we are committed to the downtown area,” he said.

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