Well apparently my optimism about the direction of the Indianapolis Museum at Newfields was a little premature. In late September I wrote about how the museum had just hired. Belinda Tate, a new director who it was hoped would help the museum move past the controversy surround a job posting in 2021 which said they were ““…seeking a director who would work not only to attract a more diverse audience but to maintain its “traditional, core, white art audience.’”
Tate was joining CEO/President Colette Pierce Burnette, who had replaced previous CEO who resigned due to the controversy. Unfortunately, as of about 10 days ago, Burnette resigned after about 15 months in her position and was joined by three board members.
While neither Burnette or the museum discussed the specifics of her departure, Adrienne Sims, the latest board member to resign wrote in her resignation that:
“As a seasoned HR executive, I believe in the importance of strong HR practices, collaborative decision-making and adherence to proper governance procedures for the well-being of the organization. Recent leadership decisions were not made in an inclusive and consultative manner, which has been disheartening,” she said.
“I hope that in the future, decisions of this nature will be approached with integrity and demonstrate a commitment to diversity, inclusion and respect for all.”
Julie Goodman, president and CEO of Indy Arts Council, weighed in on Burnette’s departure in a Facebook post following the museum’s announcement demanding transparency and calling out what she said was “callous and cold communication fueling a cycle of trauma and harm.”
So it appears that there was at least some awareness that elements of the museum’s internal culture still required attention in order for the organization to move forward.
A number of Indianapolis based Black organizations issued a statement calling for clarity about Burnette’s departure and “..the Indiana Black Expo and Indianapolis Urban League announced they have brought their partnerships with Newfields “to a complete halt” due to the sudden departure of the museum’s CEO.”