To the editor:
Regarding your article “What Price Success?” in the Culture Club section of your January 26 issue:
Readers of your article on the South Shore Cultural Center may have been left with the impression that the improvements there were accomplished by the ruthless wielding of power by an insensitive administrator who ignored community input and the rights of center employees. As president of the SSCC Advisory Council and a close observer of the workings of the Cultural Center for the past ten years, I want to correct any such mistaken impression.
The South Shore Cultural Center has had an active advisory council since the summer of 1986, composed of residents of South Shore, Hyde Park, and other south side communities. (This is not the new arts advisory group referred to in your article.) The center’s director, Claire Kaplan, has worked closely with our advisory council. Many of the changes she has made were long overdue and nearly all have the support of our members.
You gave considerable copy to the statements of two former staff members and a person whose program no longer operates at the center. These statements should have been balanced by comments from others in the community who are pleased with Claire Kaplan’s performance and with the significant improvements she has made. Furthermore, she should not be blamed for the brief threat to the continued presence of the Jazz Festival. The Park District administration made that error, but learned that the community and the advisory council were strong supporters of keeping the Jazz Festival.
Finally, as an African-American, I find the idea that a well-qualified white person cannot direct a cultural center in a predominantly black community just as reprehensible as the denial of such a job to a well-qualified African-American in a primarily white community.