Fourth Floor Rehearsal Hall, 158 N. Broadway, July 26th

Tessa Bartels is a lovely and charming woman. Byron Foster has a super sense of humor and you can tell by the sparkle in his eye that he is full of wit. Susan Godfrey is a charming lady with a great smile. John Flanagan is as smart as he is funny, and he's mightily equipped on both those fronts.

These are the Skylight Board members I met with in the Fourth Floor Rehearsal Hall of 158 N. Broadway last night. Hardly a vicious group. Not rancorous in the least. Certainly not patronizing, and indeed one might call them civilized to a fault. They all were very eager to listen to a group of artists that had been invited to a small meeting at The Skylight, and though their ears were big they ultimately were unable to give us any answers that would satisfy us that the decisions that were made at The Skylight were proper ones.

The artists in the room, identified as something of a leadership group in this Skylight crisis (a label we all accepted for purposes of discussion with a clear acknowledgement that we were only representing our peers) were yours truly, Pam Kriger, Norman Moses, Richard Carsey, Leslie Fitzwater, Paula Suozzi, Becky Spice, Ray Jivoff, Michael Wright, Alissa Rhode and Tony Clements (via Skype proving that the social media impact of this story knows no end).

There was one other person in the room last night, a man who has helped to change lives in the past several weeks, paying for that with a tremendous, life altering change of his own. That man was Eric Dillner.

I've written often that I believe Eric Dillner must step down from the Skylight for the greater good of the company. Last night was my first opportunity to look Eric face to face and say those words.

I did not shirk. And I did not shirk several times.

I did not mince words and clearly told Eric and the assembled Board members that I believe that Eric must step down for Skylight to succeed at this point. But I also did something else that gives you a glimpse into how I really feel about this whole situation.

I defended Eric. Complicated, no?

I will continue to defend something about Eric Dillner that needs to be acknowledged. The man nobly recognized a long brewing financial disaster at The Skylight months ago. He started the process that needs to be started, one that will continue to be daunting for a long time to come. Unfortunately, he tripped badly. Very, very badly. His actions after the trip have been divisive to the point of outrageous. I don't believe these actions were planned, and that perhaps is the greatest tragedy in this tale. For right or wrong, Eric is the fall guy in this very sad state of affairs.

However, sympathy goes only so far. Eric must step down or the Board must decide to reverse their decision so that the Skylight can work on the plan for recovery, not the plan to build trust in every corner of their stakeholder pool.

I have heard interim Skylight Board President Terry Kurtenbach make the clear analogy that the Skylight's large line of credit and projected deficits is essentially like having a checking account that is overdrawn by $400,000. I've also listened to long standing donors of some means say they are withdrawing their support to the Skylight because Eric Dillner still remains on staff. What I can't understand is why the current Skylight Board continues to add to that overdrawn balance, when it's really gonna to be an uphill battle just to get to zero?

I have great respect for the Board members I met last night, and the Board members I know are continuing to serve The Skylight. However, there does come a point when I start to question if the full Board, in making the decision to continue to back Eric, is being financially responsible to the institution. That point has come for me.

I know that if I essentially kept writing bad checks, that my bank wouldn't be happy. I personally must ask if the Board if acting in the best interests of The Skylight by not firing Eric Dillner. My all apologies to Mr. Dillner, you must be fired, so the Board can do the responsible thing for the institution.

I've reached the place of acceptance that tells me that the Skylight is a different place. The artists that were in that rehearsal room last night, a place where we have laughed and worked together, one in which I met my wife and have taken my daughters, a spot where we have come together to solve problems and work on jokes that would hopefully amaze audiences, were the artists with some years in at Skylight (I'm being kind to that old codger Norman Moses right now).

It has become frighteningly true that we can all be replaced. We've all suspected it since we've started performing, but the admission that many of the roles for next season at The Skylight have been recast, puts that in starker terms.

I suggested to Tessa Bartels, who I believe is the perfect person to serve in the new role of Skylight Board Vice President of Artist Relations, that perhaps the artists in that room were merely the wrong invite list. Here and now we have been clearly told we can be and have been replaced. It is time for the Board of the Skylight and the management to assemble their own leadership core from artists that are supporting their decisions. There must be some out there somewhere.

I applaud the decision to make last night's meeting happen, and I believe there will be more open community forums to come. But for me, my need to hear more is over. There are other artists who don't feel the way I and my peers in that room did last night, and I'm sure the Skylight Board will enjoy working with them. I hope the Skylight Board and management can quickly find artists who agree that the decisions that were made were the best options available. And when those artists start to ask questions about why the Board feels the ongoing support for their mismanaged decision is the best course, I hope they are willing to accept silence. So far, that silent answer is the one I feel we as a community have been asked to accept.

No more for me. I don't accept it. Silence got us into this situation, I don't believe it will get us out of it.