Encore Michigan

Purple Rose acknowledges problems as it announces Artistic Director search

News November 19, 2021 David Kiley

CHELSEA, MI – The Purple Rose Theatre today sent out an e-mail to PRTC artists past and present (actors, designers, playwrights, apprentices, etc) that acknowledges that staff members over the year have experienced distress in the way they were treated. “The Purple Rose acknowledges that some artists have experienced hurt, frustration, and disappointment within our walls. For that, we pledge to do better.”

The theatre has been the target of lawsuits and complaints from past staff for several months regarding bullying behavior, racism and hostility toward LGBTQ artists. Long-time Artistic Director Guy Sanville, the center of charges, recently stepped down from his post as the charges and complaints went public.

Former Artistic Director Guy Sanville

This is the text of the letter:

“Our promise to artists is to achieve your professional and creative potential doing work that you love.

We don’t say this because it sounds good; we say it because we truly believe in a creative home, right here in Michigan, that gives artists opportunities to work with others who share the same passion and drive for stagecraft. We want artists to work in a positive, collaborative environment because it makes our community stronger.

We realize that not all artists shared the same experience within our walls. And, just because an artist or staff member has had a positive experience, it does not negate those who had a negative experience.

Theater is more than one person. It’s more than one point of view. And, it’s more than the work audiences see on stage. Each of you play a critical role in caring for this theatre, its artists, and the common goal.

The Purple Rose acknowledges that some artists have experienced hurt, frustration, and disappointment within our walls. For that, we pledge to do better.

We have done away with low-earning, long-hour apprenticeships in hopes of finding equitable ways to provide education and experience to emerging artists in ways that interest them.

We now have ongoing training on how to handle any harassment or discrimination with updated policies and procedures for reporting issues. We have no tolerance for bullying, racism, or discrimination. And, we will work toward more safety for onstage intimacy just as we have for onstage violence.

We will begin a nationwide search with arts specialists, to find a new artistic leader to help us affirm these values. We hope you will give us a chance to work toward change.

The conversations we had, and continue to have, are designed to include more perspectives in how we operate and tell more stories that reflect the diverse range of souls who call the Midwest home. We are committed to making The Purple Rose a safe, positive, and nurturing home for all.

Each day, we will continue working toward our promise to you – our artists.”

The letter was signed by Managing Director Katie Hubbard.

Read about the complaints against The Purple Rose Theatre here.