Two controversial developments have occurred at Pride Arts (in which Pride Films & Plays, PFP, is the main tenant).
According to a letter from PrideArts President Cheri Tatar that Windy City Times obtained, PFP Artistic Director Donterrio Johnsonwho was hired over the summer in the wake of Executive Director David Zak stepping down as a result of numerous complaints about his working stylehas now resigned. The letter stated, "Unfortunately, we received the resignation from that individual this week. While we are appreciative of their time and efforts, we want you to be aware that just because they are no longer with the company, our mission of being a diverse and inclusive organization remains the same." (Johnson was not mentioned by name in the letter.)
The letter continued with a plea for resumes from all "LGBTQIA+ writers and directors, especially those who are BIPOC."
In a letter posted to his Facebook page that is dated Nov. 9, Johnson said, "In these past couple of months I learned a lot about the ART and communication. But in this time I've also learned the joy that [exists] in standing up for what is right.
"I joined this company with the idea that DZ [David Zak] would be resigning and we would be taking this company in a new direction to heal and provide a safe haven for our community. But in the past days I've been made aware that the company doesn't intend to stay true to that agreement. … I accepted this job to prevent another [theater] from closing [its] doors during this difficult time. But what I'm realizing is I was hired to be a band-aid, not necessary to solve the issue."
On his Facebook page, Johnson captioned the letter with lines from Burt Bacharach: "Go while the going is good/Knowing when to leave may be the smartest thing anyone can learn."
PrideArts noted in its letter that it has retained Zak as a consultant. The company said it continues to pay rent on two venues with no incoming revenue and it is relying on longtime supports and donors during the tough times that COVID-19 has wrought. In that vein, PrideArts has retained Zak "to maintain these relationships which he established and help fundraise to prevent PrideArts from being another casualty of the pandemic."