Orphan Girl Theater artistic director laid off; incites protest
BUTTE, Mont. - Butte's Orphan Girl Theater Board will meet this week to discuss financial problems that led to recent layoffs and cut backs. On Friday, the Orphan Girl Theater's Artistic Director was let go. That prompted protests from more than 150 parents, children and volunteers. Supporters of the former artistic director Mike Nance protested Sunday night. The organizer of the protest said she and other protesters disagree with the decision to lay off Nance. "He puts his entire heart and soul into the children and into the community," protest organizer Teresa Rose said. "And I think that was shown and displayed very well yesterday at the protest." Rose said abruptly cutting Nance's position upset the children he worked so hard to teach and mentor. "At the protest, I put up my sound system, put up the PA, put up the microphone so they could speak so they could be heard," she said. Jade Merriman participates in plays at the Orphan Girl Theater. She said what the Butte Center for Performing Arts has done will be a detrimental effect on future performances. "That theater is our entire life. It's all there is here. It's all we have is that theater and they're basically trying to break it apart," Merriman said. But the president of the Butte Center for Performing Arts, Raymond Rask, said the cuts aren't meant to hurt the theater, they are an attempt to save the Orphan Girl Theater. "We have to stop the losses where they are, so we can continue for the rest of the season and make sure we are in good shape to continue into the next year," said Rask. Rask said Nance had one of two full-time positions in the organization and the one with the highest pay. "Unfortunately no one likes to lay anyone off, but if we continued the way we were going to continue, the program was not going to be viable and we can't let that happen," said Rask. Rose said she doesn't think the entire decision was based off financial issues. "Myself and a large majority of this community would like an investigation," she said. "We would like an answer." Rose encourages the public to speak at the Orphan Girl Theater board meeting Tuesday night. The meeting on the Orphan Girl Theater is scheduled for Tuesday at 5:15 p.m.