Exec exits saying board broke 'bond of trust'

NEW YORK — James Houghton, artistic director of the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, has ankled after a conflict with the board over the reorganization of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the conference’s parent org.

The center, burdened by a debt of $700,000, runs various theater-related conferences and programs. The Playwrights Conference is the most prominent.

In a statement released Oct. 30, Houghton said he left after discovering that “a decision was made in August by the board of trustees, without input or participation from the center’s artistic leadership, for a long-term survival strategy that would impact all of the center’s programming.

“The very essence of leadership, whether it be artistic, administrative or by a board, cannot flourish without a fundamental bond of trust. I resign today as a result of that bond having been broken.”

The board is implementing a plan to centralize artistic control over the programs. Houghton, who had served in his post since 1999, had not been consulted on the decision.

The center’s new exec director, Amy Sullivan, did not return a call seeking comment.

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