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home : opinions : opinions February 05, 2016

7/23/2012 9:56:00 PM
Letter: Loss of Jody Drake silences Sharlot Hall


On July 5, the employment of Jody Drake was terminated at Sharlot Hall Museum. As a volunteer at the museum for over 17 years, I have known Jody well and have greatly enjoyed working with her. Her departure is not only a great loss to the museum, but to the community as a whole.

Jody's dedication and hard work as education director and as founder and director of the Blue Rose Theater, have been a great asset to the museum and the community. The energy and enthusiasm she has brought to her work have been an inspiration to us all, and she has been honored for her efforts.

To many, she is best known for her portrayals of Sharlot Hall herself. Her verbatim quotations from Sharlot's writings are delivered so eloquently and dramatically that it is hard to believe that she is not a reincarnation of that estimable lady. Mr. Museum Director, how can you fire Sharlot Hall?

There has been much news lately about the financial struggles of Sharlot Hall Museum. Many jobs have been curtailed or lost completely. But the termination of Jody Drake is not directly related to the financial mess at the museum. She had previously been reduced in hours and benefits as part of the austerity measures of the museum. Has Jody made some mistakes? Probably, yes. Is this unusual for someone with great enthusiasm and drive? No. Do the errors justify the firing? I don't think so, but I am not privy to all the details. Would apologies and reinstatement be in the best interest of all involved? Yes.

The importance of Jody to the museum is unquestioned by most, if not all, who are closely associated with the museum. The education department is now without a director, festivals and special events no longer have a coordinator and the person who best personifies Sharlot Hall may no longer provide character and personality to Prescott's most important tourist attraction.

There must be a means found to bury the hatchet and bring Jody back into the museum.

Without her both the museum and the community will end up losers.

Ken Edwards


Related Stories:
• Sharlot Hall Museum's Blue Rose Theater takes on new name
• Sharlot Hall Museum fires Jody Drake

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, August 06, 2012
Article comment by: R. Wise

Here's the thing.... These things take time. A letter has been composed which will eventually be sent certified mail to the President of the Board, with copies going to all board members. In order to follow the rules it will need the signature of at least 50 members. I believe that can be accomplished. The letter in question has an attachment of 5 points to consider in firing Dr. Langellier. I'm hoping to put it in a central place where members can come by, read it, hopefully sign it and we can go about looking for another Director. Word should be out before end of this week as to where to go to sign the letter. Thank each and every one of you for your patience in this matter. To get it done right we have to go about this right. Randi

Posted: Monday, July 30, 2012
Article comment by: Bill Campbell

Cracks me up how cowardly people are using pseudonyms instead of real names. With so many museums hitting the red or going out all together, we should be THANKING the lady who brought life to our museum. Sounds to me like those who are bashing are simply threatened by her. I didn't know her on a personal level but I sure know that a LIVING history museum brought me and my family back many times over. Now...it's just over.

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2012
Article comment by: Of Course The Director Could Resign and Why Shouldn't He?

What has he done?

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2012
Article comment by: TO R. WISE

Finally.......Info that can be used to bring the morass of Langellier & the current board-of-directors to a conclusion. Lets get on with it and either take action or drop it and give John & Co. a chance to change course without this constant harping. I think the majority of members rather than the minority would welcome this opportunity to be heard. Here's hoping

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2012
Article comment by: To R. Wise

The answer in how membership can change the course of the museum can be found in the Sharlot Hall Historical Society By-laws.

“Article II, Meetings of Members
2. Place of Meetings. All meetings of the members shall be held at the office of the Society or at such other place within the community of Prescott, Arizona as the board of trustees may provide by resolution
3. Special Meetings. Special meetings of the members may be called at any time by a majority of trustees and must be called by the president or secretary on receipt of the written request of one-third of the members of the Society.
Article VIII, Amendments
2. By Members
The by-laws may be amended or repealed at any meeting of the members of the Society by a majority vote of all the members present, provided that the membership is notified of the proposed action six weeks before the meeting at which the vote is taken.”

To me it looks like:
Circulate a petition to membership asking for vote to amend the SHHS By-laws, allowing membership to vote on keeping the current executive director or dismissal. Recruit new members and have them sign, Sharlot hall Museum needs the money and it is for a great cause! (one vote per member and only members vote, also in the By-laws)

After the required 1/3 membership signatures are obtained, contact the board president or secretary with meeting agenda and ask for meeting.

Have meeting and vote.

After by-laws are amended, circulate a petition asking for a vote on executive director, keep or dismiss.

After required 1/3 membership signatures are obtained, contact the board president or secretary with meeting agenda and ask for meeting.

Have meeting and vote.

Changing the course of the ship won’t happen overnight but it can be attained by changing the ship’s captain. The by-law amendment is not just relevant to now and the current situation, but would be relevant to future generations of membership, assuming the ship does not sink. That may indeed be a huge assumption due to the waters thus far navigated.

Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012
Article comment by: Too bad

Jody will be missed. This is the sure sign of an organization that is flailing.

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: R. Wise

OK.... Here's the thing..... Of course she'd like to have that part of her life back, but not in the hostile atmosphere that has developed there. There is no room on that campus for John and Jody. In the mean time we can't let the place collapse or there is no place to go back to. As hard as it was to see Jody kicked to the curb, it's even harder to see SHM slowly morph into something unrecognizable. Do I want to see her at the helm..... heck yes. But let's make sure she has a helm to go to. Things are being arranged to get a members meeting together. If everyone can just hang on, many options will be explored at that time. A venue needs to be procured and a date and time chosen. Patients is not a virtue of mine either, but it's something we all need to practice at this time. On SHM's side, R

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: Wait, Wait, Wait

R. Wise. What post are you on? of course it is about Jody and her job and has been for several recent news articles. This letter is asking to bury the hatchet and reinstate her. I think you missed it entirely. Good grief.

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: @ R. Wise

I agree, Jody should be asked. She has given so much and she does love the museum, I think you are wrong, she would like to go back.

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: R. Wise

Has anyone thought to ask Jody if she wants her job back? I think you'd be surprised at her answer. Like I have said over and over it's not about Jody's job at this point, it's about the integrity and mission statement that has been lost over the last 5 years. It's about educating ourselves as members so we can have a part in making the changes that obviously need attention. I would hope that all of the volunteers/members affected by this mess are wanting to see the place stay open. Are wanting to see the artifacts and archives stay here in Prescott where they belong. Let's get to where the artifacts are displayed like they should be. Let's keep it easy to go to the archives/library and research family or a local event. That's where the concentration and passion needs to be. Whether it's a petition to be sent to the Capitol, or any other suggestions that might come up. But.... we need to meet as a concerned group and discuss the options we may or may not have. I which I had the answers but I alone don't. Water didn't form the Grand Canyon over night. Yes this might take some time and doing, but I think the Museum is worth it. Have a good week, R

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: @ Tongue-in-Cheek .

What you are missing is that Sharlot Hall, through the years, evolved into being a cultural center and museum, what the founder Sharlot Hall envisioned. This is a changed world as far as funding the museum. It was changing before John Langellier arrived. He failed to see the change and stuck to his direction of what a museum should be, without compromise. Sticking to that direction has landed the museum in dire straits. There is no reason the museum cannot be in both worlds. That is "A serious credible museum is just that, a museum" and an extra special place in Yavapai County that brings people back again and again after they have toured the daily museum offerings. The State is not funding this museum as it was. The Sharlot Hall Historical Society has taken up a great deal of funding (majority?) of what the State dropped. The Sharlot Hall Historical Society is us, here in Yavapai County. Therefore the museum belongs to us. The grounds and buildings offer the venue, why should they not be utilized to the maximum? It follows Sharlot Hall’s vision.

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: @ Strike Until Jody is Back!

Actually, that may precipitate a very rapid change. Much faster than the proposed meeting of of R. Wise. The board has been aloof to the community and operating in a vacuum, this might get their attention! The community does need to be heard.

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: Tongue-in-Cheek .

A museum offering entertainment and commercial endeavors is akin to an "Antique Shop" that displays a few old things, then fills the selves with imitation chautskies that are neither old nor valuable and half made in China. The Historical value becomes "made up facts" and distorts the serious historical value in order to fit the entertainment venue. A serious credible museum is just that, a museum. There are plenty of pay for view playhouse venues elsewhere if you want to sit and be entertained. Maybe a chorus line show and cocktail lounge would enhance revenues, if that is all some people want.

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: PO'd Prescottonian

It sounds like the community is losing quite an asset by ending the fusion of this woman with the museum, and like that organization may be in real trouble. What can interested members of the community do to help? Is there a good way to get involved?

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: Really! Really!!!!!!

Good Lord, what a bunch of funky monkees. Jody Drake made Sharlot Hall a reality for so many. ...
I will never cross onto that property again.

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Article comment by: Come on - 'Strike Until Jody is Back'

That is a short-sighted silly idea. I certainly do not need Jody in a costume to help me understand Arizona history. And you are wrong. It is a MUSEUM. Not an amateur playhouse or a theater. Jody should never have been allowed to proceed as far as she did. Give an actor an inch and she will take a mile. And I really wouldn't worry to much about Sharlot Hall Museum becoming a stogy, ill-lit, dusty mausoleum for local Prescott and Southwest artifacts. John Langellier has been there, what, five years, and has not mounted a single pertinent interesting exhibition. Hardly a threat. I am really not sure what he does. Full of energy ... scurrying around all the time and NOTHING GETS DONE. So we have no theater and no cowboy poets and no book sale and no museum exhibits. Walla!

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Article comment by: Strike Until Jody is Back!

There are museums which are composed of glass boxes full of old stuff with little signs. They are Ok, but a little boring, I have visited many in my long life. Jody understood that there is more to a museum than stuffy displays of old stuff. Jody realized that a Museum could come to life and bring together what all these displays mean, how they were an integral part of the past. The more modern museums all over the world are realizing this fact. Jody understood it. John does not understand, he is of the old school. The museum will now drift into a slumber of snores as glass boxes and do not touch signs proliferate. I think that all volunteers should strike and demand that Jody gets her job back!

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Article comment by: @Come on. Get real. This mess is not about Jody Drake (Miss playlike S. Hall).

"Jody and her little imaginary world belong in one of the local small theaters."
Actually, it was not an imaginary world, it was history come to life. An imaginary world would be the Regulators and their Shady Ladies and their history that never was. And
Jody was in a local theater, one she brought to the museum eighteen years ago. You can thank her for it, It is now called Sharlot Hall Theater.
Other than that we see eye to eye.

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Article comment by: @ Tongue-in-Cheek

"A museum is:
A depository for collecting and displaying objects having scientific, historical or artistic value.
A museum is not: For wannabe actors and showmanship and live entertainment."

You know, that sounds like what John Langellier was saying,..... just in the begging of this month before it all hit the fan with the firing of Jody. He seems to have changed his tune now, I heard no objection from him on the fundraiser Sharlot's Haul.

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Article comment by: Tongue-in-Cheek .

Maybe Jody could join the humane society and start a theater out there. The theater genre and the dog pound go together about as well as a serious museum and theater do.
A museum is:
A depository for collecting and displaying objects having scientific, historical or artistic value.
A museum is not: For wannabe actors and showmanship and live entertainment.

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Article comment by: Come on. Get real. This mess is not about Jody Drake (Miss playlike S. Hall).

Get past it. The Sharlot Hall Museum was never meant to be a playhouse for local theatrics. Never. Jody and her little imaginary world belong in one of the local small theaters. This unconscionable mess is about a director and board that have proven again and again that they cannot lead. That are directionless. Ego driven. Dismissive of their volunteers and lower echelon staff. And have no plan to correct this fiasco. A bike event? Give me a break. They are unable or unwilling to make the place interesting enough to attract donors. A proper museum has meaningful, thoughtful, well-mounted exhibitions of their holdings. This one does not. And has not for years... About the only thing that works at this museum is the beautiful rose garden. Some big changes are in order. Now!

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Article comment by: Daisy Lucas

All I know is how much Jody Drake has given to the community of Prescott. My children had their first acting experiences with her and I know her through many of her other wonderful endeavors at the Museum. She was consistently caring and enthusiastic and enabled the history of Prescott to come alive.

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