‘Board was caught between the proverbial rock and hard place’

BRATTLEBORO — Kate Anderson was the president of the NECCA board of trustees until she resigned in May.

“Despite working through many stresses, the board was very strong and stable up until end of May,” she said. “Going forward, there was very active discussion as to how to move the founders into teaching and coaching.”

Anderson said that the board “were caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.”

“The twins are beloved, yet the board had to concern itself with the 501(c)3,” she said, referring to the section of the tax code that defines NECCA as a tax-exempt, tax-deductible not-for-profit organization.

“The board's duty was to act on fiduciary responsibility - how to manage the transition into a forward-looking center with structure in place to allow inventiveness and creative space at all levels.

“This was the challenge and is where we had not yet succeeded.”

Anderson confirmed that there were seven members at the time of the vote that terminated the employment of founders Serenity Smith Forchion and Elsie Smith.

“However, there was dissension as to how the vote should be implemented, and five resigned following the vote,” she said.

She said that NECCA “had, indeed, developed a strong reputation for skill teaching. But the board recognized a need for growth and artistic expansion so as to remain cutting edge, the go-to place in a circus industry in flux.

“The new building was meant to serve new and contemporary circus with a facility capable of hosting exactly this. There was a good deal of tension with the founders on how to both incorporate their expertise while at the same time make place for other, new voices.

“The board recognized need for more artistic latitude and was well along in process of developing this. Resistance from the founders served to slow a process that was designed to incorporate more coaches' input,” Anderson said.

“Ironically, this is now what is being advocated by the twins, but this is what the board was seeking to develop,” the former president observed.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates