Theater Company To Explore Future Amid COVID, Without Director

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By Eric Valentine

Scott Palmer

Scott Palmer, who assumed leadership of Company of Fools (CoF) as producing artistic director of the 25-year-old theater company in October of 2018, has officially vacated the position, effective last Friday, Aug. 21. With the 2020 season cancelled due to COVID restrictions, the Sun Valley Museum of Art (the theater’s parent organization) hasn’t filled the empty slot with an interim director but says it’s ready to explore a wide range of options for the 26th annual season and beyond, including discussions with the Valley’s theater community.

“Although we are sad to see Scott go, it is understandable given the circumstances we are facing,” said Ellen Gillespie, SVMoA’s board president. “We brought Scott to the Valley to be an active and creative leader for the theater. Now, with the cancellation of the season, the Fools are in something of a holding pattern.”

Gillespie was optimistic, too, noting that Palmer’s departing advice and suggestions will help Company of Fools to continue bringing high-quality, professional theater to residents and visitors here.

“What that looks like will be informed by deep conversations with CoF staff, artists, donors,

and theater colleagues in the broader community,” Gillespie said.

Director’s Direction

So where does Palmer go from here? Palmer announced that he has accepted a position as the executive director of the Crested Butte Center for the Arts in Crested Butte, Colorado. He will be bringing to the Centennial State a full career of experience that in less than three years in Hailey was buttriced even more.

During his tenure as producing artistic director for CoF, Palmer programmed a season of work that included a combination of American theater classics such as Crimes of the Heart, along with

contemporary work like Cry It Out, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, and The Niceties. In addition,

Palmer’s programming included a rehearsed reading series, the creation of CoF’s Intensives theater

education workshops, and the expansion of CoF’s accessibility programming that saw dedicated parent

and baby performances and performances for audiences with sensory disabilities. CoF also joined the

National New Play Network and the National Autism Theater network, both of which helped expand

access to CoF’s shows and created a focus on new theater work.

“In light of the cancellation of CoF’s 25th Season, and the ongoing pressures applied to

professional theaters across the world from COVID-19, I felt that it was time for me to explore new

challenges and help shape and influence the future programming of the Crested Butte Center for the

Arts. I have loved my time with the artists and staff of the Fools, and know that the future of the Fools is

bright,” Palmer said in a statement to the press.

“Given what is happening to professional theaters in the United States, this is a natural time for SVMoA and the CoF staff to do a deep dive into the future of the theater,” said Palmer. “There are a lot of

challenges ahead, including how to produce theater when we aren’t able to gather audiences in the

Liberty Theatre, how to address Actors Equity Association issues around contracts for union-represented

artists, and how to embrace a more equitable and inclusive way of making theater.”

The Crested Butte Center for the Arts is the largest cultural nonprofit in the tourist destination of

Crested Butte. Having recently completed a nearly $20 million capital campaign, and completed construction on a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts facility, Palmer will lead a small,

dedicated staff as they explore how to address arts and culture programming with the challenges of

COVID-19.