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Arts Center Executive Resigns

Katz says he's leaving to "pursue other opportunities," but declines to comment further about his parting with the foundation. "I'm going to take a few months off to set my priorities, enjoy my summer," he says.

Sources close to the arts center project say that considerable friction existed between Katz and Brad Armstrong, president and chief executive officer of the arts foundation, tension that ultimately led to Katz's resignation. Katz also didn't agree with certain operational aspects of the proposed project, these sources say.

Armstrong isn't commenting on his relationship with Katz. "I can only say that he resigned to pursue other interests," Armstrong says.

The departure comes at a precarious time for the foundation, which has clashed recently with Mayor L. Douglas Wilder.

Fund-raising has fallen considerably short of projections. In order to receive $15.8 million in city funds, mostly from meals-tax revenues, the foundation agreed to complete by July 1 raising money for the first $93 million phase of the project — which includes renovating the Carpenter Center and building the new arts facility in the former Thalhimer's block on Broad Street. Wilder has been critical of the project's development, citing the need for more public input and control, and its inability to raise enough private money.

During his nine years at the helm of the Carpenter Center, Katz was known as a frugal manager with a keen eye for programming who stabilized the center's once-bleeding balance sheet. Some on the arts foundation board had hoped Katz would eventually manage the Performing Arts Center upon its completion.

"I'm sorry to see him resign," says Martin J. Rust, former president of the Carpenter Center board, who now sits on the executive committee of the foundation's board of directors. Despite Katz's departure, Rust says he is happy with the direction of the foundation and remains confident that the arts center will be built as planned.

"I really wouldn't read too much into his resignation," he says of Katz. "I remain very, very bullish on the foundation." — Scott Bass

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