Ousted head of Riviera Theatre locked in bitter legal fight
|By Nancy Fischer, The Buffalo News, N.Y.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Attendance soared from 15,000 to 100,000 a year under Cannata's leadership as executive director. The struggling theater went from
The success of the theater mirrored Cannata's personal comeback story: He had lost his job as a
But now, Cannata is locked in a bitter legal fight with the theater's board of directors
The board asked him to leave in February, and he has filed a lawsuit accusing the theater of not honoring a severance agreement, valued at more than
Because of the lawsuit, Cannata would not discuss why he was asked to leave. But he said his departure has nothing to do with his past problems with drugs or any other criminal or health matter.
Board members also declined to say why they asked Cannata to leave, saying only that it is a personnel issue.
So what went wrong?
No one will put a finger on what caused the rift that led to Cannata's removal. Board members appeared to have been divided, but several of those who supported Cannata ultimately resigned from the board.
"I don't really know what started this," said former board member
She said she resigned because she didn't like how the situation was handled.
"It's very confusing and very disheartening," she said.
Former board member
"I think part of the problem was Frank was used to working alone as the sole employee, so as we started adding staff because he grew the theater so much, there were just some things in communication that could have been more streamlined," Logue said without being specific.
Cannata, who had been with the theater since 2006, said last week that he had taken a leave in November that ultimately ended up with his resignation
A breach-of-contract lawsuit was filed on behalf of Cannata on
According to the lawsuit, Cannata was notified
Sanders said the lawsuit does not deal with the termination itself.
"I loved what I was doing there, and I loved the people," Cannata said. "It's a great facility, a great community, and over the last few years the regional community has really come out to help the theater grow."
"I am proud to say that I left the building and the organization in general much better than the way I found it," he added. "The Riviera really became an anchor for
Because of the ongoing legal action, Cannata said he could not discuss any specifics regarding his departure. But he also said there was nothing illegal, immoral or unethical involved in his resignation, nor was it a health issue.
"I don't know why this would be of interest to anyone," she said. "Positions change all the time."
But when pressed, she said, "He did help to take the theater to the next level, there's no denying that, but there's still a great vision for the theater and many people who play big roles in what the theater has to offer for the future."
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