Former MTS executive director responds
December 7, 2007
Mountain Town Stages has lost two venues to its former executive director Toby Martin: The Canyons resort in the spring and a Quarry Village stage in the summer. Though parties on both sides have remained quiet, a letter from the nonprofit’s founder, Randy Barton, recently broke the silence.
"I have heard Martin has approached Quarry Village and other locations and sponsors to offer his individual programming services," he wrote in a letter sent to local television, radio and newspaper outlets on Tuesday. "All of these stages have been proudly built and programmed by Mountain Town Stages It is my hope that (Martin) will use his own ideas and locations to further his career."
Mountain Town Stages is a nonprofit that produces live music locally in the warmer months. Featured acts have included local and internationally-known talent, including The Motherlode Canyon Band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Dr. John, Fat Paw and Burning Spear.
A year ago, Mountain Town Stages hired Martin as executive director to replace Barton, who, after seven years of building nine stages throughout Summit County, chose to leave the organization. Since that time, the nonprofit’s board maintains that Barton "is not a member of the Mountain Town Stages Board of Trustees and does not speak for the organization."
Before Mountain Town Stages’ Cow Ballet fundraiser in August, the board decided Martin was "not the best fit for the organization and his contract was terminated," according to a new letter to the editor submitted by the board in response to Barton’s statement. In part, Barton and Martin claim the dismissal followed a significant financial loss from the production of the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Jam at The Canyons, a concert featuring Blue Oyster Cult and Foghat.
Martin says he finds Barton’s public statement unnecessary and confusing. Both he and the organization had made an agreement not to slander each other in public, he says.
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"He claims not to be part of Mountain Town Stages so I’m perplexed about why he made sure the public knew I was no longer with the organization it was no secret," Martin told The Park Record.
"His use of the word rumor (in his letter) is offensive. I sat with principal board members and told them exactly what I was doing and when he talks about how I should get my own ideas, I was surprised. I didn’t know that anyone owned the concept of putting on music concerts There’s room for all of us."
Martin says he moved to Park City after 30 years in the entertainment thinking he would be leaving the business. However, since taking the position at Mountain Town Stages he says he has become reinvigorated. He argues he did not sign a noncompete clause in his separation agreement from the nonprofit this fall, and therefore sees no reason not to do business with contacts he made as executive director.
Barton says that Martin’s actions have been fair, but counters that Martin has not been forthright about his new music-production business.
"It appears he’s been using our connections, offering himself as an alternative, insinuating Mountain Town Stages was collapsing," says Barton. "I just can’t think of any other reason, if Mountain Town Stages has been successful, why any of our partners would be considering using another organization (to program music)."
Barton expressed concerned about his legacy and the fate of Mountain Town Stages. In an interview, he emphasized his appreciation for the commitment and support his organization has received from the public and sponsors like The Canyons, La Casita, and Miners Park for local venues and musicians.
"I wish Toby the best," he says. "I just wish he would look at his own talent and abilities and create his own programming rather than lure away locations Mountain Town Stages worked so hard to build and make successful."