Gramercy Park Block Association - Neighborhood News #352  
The Players - Update

Dear Friends,

Many of you have expressed serious concerns about the future of The Players. I have been working with The Players' Financial Audit Committee to support their efforts to save the club.  


We owe a huge debt of gratitude to FAC co-chairs Lynne Lerner and Lee Pfeiffer for their outstanding leadership, and to them and their committee's relentless pursuit of the truth. It was their excellent 18-page report that brought to light the facts that The Players was in "nearly $3 million in debt" and in "imminent danger of closing".  


Meeting with Players President Johnnie Planco

Today I met for 1 1/2 hours with President Johnnie Planco.


Focus of my agenda: The 3 remaining Executive Committee members (Pres. Johnnie Planco, 1st Vice Pres. James Fennimam and 2nd Vice Pres. Ann Vellis) must resign immediately (the rest of the committee have already resigned), if they have any interest in the club's recovery.

Mr. Planco said he has no intention of resigning, and that he could not speak on behalf of Mr. Fenniman and Ms. Vellis. 

Next steps
Our next focus will be on the removal of the 3 at a Special Meeting of the Membership, which was called for in a petition by Players members (excerpted below).

"The undersigned respectfully request the President to call a Special Meeting of the Board of Directors to be held within 6 business days of the receipt of this petition so that the Board of Directors can call said Special Meeting of the Membership.


The object of the Special Meeting of the Membership is i) to remove for cause the following members of the Board of Directors: Johnnie Planco, James Fenniman, Ann Vellis, Pam Singleton, Elizabeth Jackson and Winston Simone, and, ii) for the Membership to take any other action(s) regarding The Players' finances, management, personnel, policies, practices and procedures as the Membership may direct by a majority vote at the meeting." 

Reasons Planco, Fenniman, and Vellis need to resign:
  1. Negative press for their "long history of gross mismanagement" ("nearly $3 million in debt over a 9 year period") will continue as long as they remain.
  2. Zero confidence in their decision-making. Confirmed at the March 14th membership meeting where the Executive Committee "voted unanimously to retain Martello as Executive Director despite the overwhelming majority of members attending voting to dismiss him." 
  3. Financial support is much needed immediately, and is being withheld by many as long as the current Executive Committee is making decisions.
  4. Their removal at the membership meeting is imminent.  This meeting will be different from the first meeting, as members will be educated about their mismanagement when proxies are sent out.
  5. The new idea of "transparency" is absurd.  It's far too late for that, too much damage has been done. 
  6. Increased membership will be difficult until they resign. Prospective members fear the club is in jeopardy with them making decisions.
  7. New events will be difficult to book, with people fearful of the club's financial state.
  8. Two lawsuits I understand are being considered - More negative press.
  9. Community relations cannot improve while they remain.
  10. Volunteers can only begin working positively for the club, when they will no longer be working "against" the Executive Committee.
  11. Attracting a celebrated member of the theatrical community for the presidency cannot take place until they step down and the press can focus on a more hopeful future for the club.