GALVESTON — Elliot Lessing, who in June took the helm at the Galveston Arts Center, has been let go just six weeks after he began working as executive director.

The center’s executive board terminated Lessing’s employment July 24.

“Elliot had an incredible vision for the arts center, but he ran into roadblocks with the board,” said Keith Bassett, executive board president.

Bassett would not say what the roadblocks were because the board was in a severance negotiation with Lessing.

“Elliot is very creative, very talented, and he creates a lot of excitement,” said Mary Jo Naschke, an executive board member.

She said Lessing left by mutual agreement with the executive board.

“The board and Lessing did not have the same vision,” she said.  

“I think when he got here, he quickly realized that the job would be primarily fundraising, grant writing and administration. I think he will be happier as an independent curator.”

Lessing declined to comment.

Naschke said she thought the board would replace Lessing quickly.

“We received 20 outstanding résumés, and narrowed the field to three people,” she said.

“At the time we were looking for energy and talent and Lessing was the strongest contender,” she said.

The arts center, which had been without an executive director since February, is preparing to launch a fundraising campaign to complete renovation of the First National Bank Building at 2127 Strand. The bank building has been uninhabitable since 2008, when it was extensively damaged by Hurricane Ike.

The arts center does not own the building but is responsible for substantial renovation and maintenance costs.

The Junior League of Galveston owns the building and leases it to the arts center for $1 a year.

(3) comments

Ron Shelby

As owner, didn't the Junior League need to carry insurance on the building? What happened there?

Chris Gimenez

If he didn't know what his role was to be when he was hired then the board failed.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Lord, may I someday get a job where they ditch me for my "different vision" after just a few weeks, and then commence negotiations for my severance package...after 6 weeks, severance earned should amount to a box of tootsie rolls and a Galveston street map.

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