Published 7:28 pm Saturday, August 18, 2007

By Staff
The decision by the Turnage Theaters Foundation’s Board of Directors to replace John Vogt as the foundation’s executive director came as a surprise to many people.
As much as replacing Vogt on an interim basis with Robert Chumbley is a surprise, it is even more surprising that Vogt, brought to Washington to oversee the restoration of the Turnage Theaters complex, was replaced while that restoration continues. The timing of Vogt’s departure from the Turnage Theaters Foundation is raising questions in the community.
Whether those questions will be answered to the public’s satisfaction remains to be seen. It’s likely that the foundation’s directors had good reasons for letting Vogt leave and replacing him with Chumbley.
What concerns many people is the possibility this latest development with the foundation will somehow adversely affect what has become a community effort to restore the Turnage complex and open it once again as a venue for live performances, the showing of movies and other activities designed to bring more people to Washington.
Many people have contributed time, money and other resources to help restore the historic complex with its 1930s-era theater and its 1913 Vaudeville stage. They have a right to be concerned with anything that could result in the restoration effort being delayed or hampered.
Based on comments from foundation representatives, it doesn’t look like that effort will be delayed or derailed as the result of the change in leadership.
Koestline told the Daily News he is confident Chumbley will keep the foundation “moving in the good direction that we want it to go.” For the sake of the Turnage complex and what its restoration can mean to Washington and eastern North Carolina, let us hope that confidence in Chumbley be well-placed.
Foundation President Jerry Smyre, by way of a written statement, said the interim director brings extensive experience to address the foundation’s immediate needs. If bringing an interim director to the stage means the Turnage complex will be better off, then the foundation’s directors have made the right move.
Replacing the captain of a ship in the middle of an ocean voyage can lead to disastrous results, but sometimes it’s required to keep the ship afloat and on the right course. Reading between the lines of this story, so far, leads to the reasonable conclusion that it was time to make a change.
The full story about Vogt’s departure may never be made public. Whatever else, the Turnage complex is preparing for a new chapter in its history. Vogt had a hand in writing that chapter.
The foundation’s board has decided it’s time for the next chapter to be written by someone else. That chapter must move the project forward. And from what the interim director had to say about his new post, that forward movement is waiting in the wings.
That statement indicates the interim director is familiar with the role the Turnage Theaters Foundation is expected to play. We are hopeful that he will be able to direct the foundation toward a winning performance in that role.