Coconut Grove Artistic Director Asked to Resign; $4 Million Debt Looms

News   Coconut Grove Artistic Director Asked to Resign; $4 Million Debt Looms
Coconut Grove Playhouse's producing artistic director Arnold Mittelman has been asked to resign after 21 years, The Miami Herald reported.

The resident Miami theatre that has hosted new works, pre-Broadway engagements and classic revivals is struggling with a $4 million debt. On April 21, board members asked Mittelman to resign.

He was reportedly given until April 24 to make a decision.

Board chairwoman Shelly Spivack would not reveal to the Herald why the board asked for his resignation. Another board member who asked not be sourced told the paper there were questions about his handling of finances and expenses.

The board would be faced with the possibility of firing Mittelman if he doesn't resign.

Citing IRS filings, The Herald reported that Mittelman makes $190,000 a year in his job at the not-for-profit Coconut Grove, plus $14,000 in benefits and deferred compensation, and a $17,140 expense allowance. The week of April — the same week Mittelman had received the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts at the 2006 Carbonell Awards, which recognize excellence in South Florida theatre — the theatre's deep financial woes began to surface. Checks to employees and suppliers were reportedly bouncing and the building was shut down briefly.

Its current production, Sonia Flew, apparently couldn't make payroll and was in danger of being canceled until its star, Lucie Arnaz, made a public appeal for funds and contributed $50,000 of her own money.

The Herald suggested that Mittelman, in the past, has operated the theatre with little oversight from the board.

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