Eric Holowacz is no longer president and CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.
Brian Haymon, chairman of the arts council’s board of directors, said Holowacz resigned. However, Moffitt Aycock, former interim director of the Community Fund for the Arts Campaign, said Haymon announced Friday that Holowacz had been fired.
“Brian called a 3 o’clock meeting, and there were seven or eight of us in the room,” Aycock said. “Brian walked in with (board secretary) Yolanda Dixon and (Arts Council CPA) Michael Lovelace. I can’t remember if he used to word ‘fired’ or ‘terminated,’ but he said Eric was to clean out his desk by Monday and stop doing any work for the Arts Council.”
Aycock said she immediately resigned.
“I stood up and said I strongly disagreed with their decision, then resigned,” she said. “I left, so I don’t know what happened in the room after that.”
Holowacz was named president and CEO in the summer of 2013, following the September 2012 death of Baton Rouge native Derek Gordon, who returned home to take the job after heading the Jazz at Lincoln Center program in New York.
Holowacz served as the city arts and cultural manager for Victoria, Australia, before coming to Baton Rouge.
Aycock said Holowacz terminated the position of deputy director held by Kathy Scherer on Feb. 12. Phone calls to both Scherer and Holowacz were not returned on Monday.
“They didn’t give Eric a reason why they were letting him go while I was in the room,” Aycock said. “I think he was a visionary who was committed to all the arts and bringing a vibrant art scene to Baton Rouge. It’s a sad day for all the arts.”
In a statement released Monday, Haymon said, “Eric brought great creativity, energy and passion to the Arts Council. We thank him for his services and wish him the best.”
An interim leader has not yet been named, but the board is taking all steps necessary to ensure the work of the Arts Council continues to run smoothly, the release states.
“The Arts Council is blessed with dedicated and experienced staff,” Haymon said. “The board will work closely with the staff during the interim until new leadership is in place.”
The board is making plans to search for a new president and CEO.
“We are committed to recruiting a top flight leader who will drive the success of the Arts Council that is so vital to our community,” Haymon said in the statement.