Regina Folk Festival seeking interim director after Sandra Butel's departure

“The Board will also set out limitations to executive power to the executive officers on the organization side in a facilitated session."

Sandra Butel speaks at the Regina Folk Festival in Victoria Park in 2018. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post

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The Regina Folk Festival plans to “immediately” hire an interim executive director given the departure of Sandra Butel, and will propose bylaw changes at its upcoming annual general meeting.

Meanwhile, artistic bookings for the festival — set for Aug. 7-9 in Victoria Park — are being done internally.

That’s according to an email from the RFF’s communications co-ordinator Meghan Trenholm.

“The Board will also set out limitations to executive power to the executive officers on the organization side in a facilitated session within the next 2 or 3 weeks,” Trenholm wrote.

In response to a Leader-Post request, the RFF’s board president Melissa Biro said this week the non-profit organization had “parted ways” with Butel, the folk festival’s longtime artistic director and executive director.

Reasons for their severed relationship were not made clear. Biro said the RFF would “not be discussing personnel matters at this time.” Butel — who spent 21 years as the RFF’s artistic director — said she couldn’t elaborate “on the advice of my legal counsel.”

Gerry Ruecker resigned from his role as board secretary last week, writing in a public Facebook post: “It is with a heavy heart that I have handed in my resignation from the Board of Directors of the Regina Folk Festival. I have been proud to have served this organization for the past 15 or so years, and I wish it nothing but the best in the future.”

When contacted for an interview on Wednesday, he declined to comment further. In a 2012 interview, he praised Butel’s work: “She’s turned it around financially, but she’s also opened it up for more age groups and demographics.”

The RFF’s annual general meeting is scheduled for April 21, and so far there are proposed revisions or additions to six clauses in the organization’s bylaws.

One proposed addition defines the role of executive director.

Another suggests that the “executive director shall be (among) the authorized public voices for the organization,” in addition to the artistic director and board president.

Per another proposed addition, the executive director would join the artistic director and board of directors in responsibility for developing, approving and overseeing a budget before the fiscal year.

These proposed amendments hint that the executive director’s job had been poorly defined.

Butel began her artistic director role in 1999, at which time the festival also employed a general manager. It is unclear when Butel’s role as executive director/CEO began.

One proposed bylaw change would limit board directors’ positions to a maximum of three consecutive terms.

Another new proposal suggests the vice-president should serve as the staff liaison on the board. The RFF has several staff members working in marketing, production, finance and other areas.

Clarifying the artistic director’s role is another proposed revision, outlining the AD’s “key duties” as “selection, booking, artist services, and programming.”

amartin@postmedia.com

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