Piper’s loses third director in two years
Appeal Staff Writer
For the third time in two years, Piper’s Opera House will be losing its executive director.
But this time it isn’t because of past turmoil, Pauline Fitzpatrick just wants to get on with her retirement.
“I want to do all the things I retired to do,” she said. Fitzpatrick is spending some of her time gardening, fixing up her home and enjoying the quiet of the Virginia City evenings, looking out over the Sugarloaf down Six Mile Canyon.
Fitzpatrick, who formerly ran the United Way in Reno, took over Piper’s on Dec. 15, 2006, at no salary, upon the resignation of Perry Arnn, an interim director who came on board in July 2006, following the June 2006 resignation of former director Margo Memmott.
“It’s in good shape,” she said of the historic hall. “It’s got strong leadership and I’m still here. I am just not the go-to person as I was since January.”
Fitzpatrick’s resignation became effective Monday. She will remain a member of the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce and is secretary-treasurer of the Let ‘Em Run Foundation begun by singer Lacy J. Dalton.
“I hope to be more involved in the chamber but not right now,” she said. “I spent so much energy at Piper’s.”
Fitzpatrick oversaw all aspects of the opera house, including booking performances, writing grants, arranging for restoration work, increasing membership, creating new policies and procedures and attracting dedicated volunteers.
She said new, effective policies and procedures are in place, bills are paid, and although there isn’t enough funding to hire an executive director, it is possible the opera house can hire an administrative assistant.
“Someone to answer the phone and do the bookkeeping,” she said.
The responsibility to decide what to do about a new director falls to board chairman Dick Stoll, who Fitzpatrick said has been heavily involved with nonprofits for many years.
“That’s one reason I feel good about stepping back right now,” she said. “There are such strong people there and the structure is in place.”
Piper’s Opera House Programs Inc., the nonprofit corporation that operates the opera house, held new elections for its officers last month, installing Stoll, of Reno, in charge as chairman.
Other board members are Alexandra Musser, vice-chairman, Henry Kilmer, treasurer, Cathylee James, secretary and Marshall McBride, advisor.
Comstock Arts Council president Bill Beeson is the new artistic director and Ash Allen serves as the house manager on a volunteer basis.
Fitzpatrick said her only regret is not raising more funds.
“I would have liked to have raised a lot more money, but the structure is in place to do that now,” she said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111 ext. 351.