BRATTLEBORO -- Over the past 10 years, while leading Latchis Arts and the Latchis Corp., Gail Nunziata has moved the heavens and earth to keep the historic building functional and economically viable.
She helped the Latchis recover from the devastating floods left from Tropical Storm Irene, and dealt with a smashed marquee, a change in name from Brattleboro Arts Initiative to Latchis Arts and always saw to it, as they say in show business, that the show went on.
Now, after almost a decade of serving the Latchis, Nunziata is ready to step down.
Nunziata told the Latchis boards recently that she would be resigning. She plans to leave at the end of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Nunziata says she was not necessarily waiting for the end of the capital campaign, which ended this month with Latchis Arts raising the $550,000 needed to completely refurbish the theater, but when the goal was met she says it was an easy decision to make.
"I knew when the campaign was complete I would have the psychic space to think about it," Nunziata said. "It seems like a good time for me, and a good time for the organization to plan for the future."
The Latchis Theater, Hotel and real estate holdings, are run by a for-profit corporation, while Latchis Arts is the nonprofit that organizes the theater, film and music programs and helps raise money for the on-going work needed to maintain the 75-year-old theater and hotel.
Nunziata is the head of both organizations and works under the two separate boards.
When the Latchis family announced that it would sell the hotel and theater the Brattleboro Arts Initiative, working with other historic preservation and arts organizations, helped raise the money to purchase the property. In 2003 Brattleboro Arts Initiative took over management of the Latchis.
A director was hired who left a year or so later.
Zon Eastes was on the board at the time, and he said the board knew it needed someone who would be able to raise money, bring in programming, manage the business and care for the historic building.
"We knew at the time that there would be a lot of changes and that we needed just the right person," Eastes said. "Brattleboro is very lucky to have had Gail do this over the past 10 years."
Before coming to the Latchis Nunziata worked with Brattleboro architect Leo Berman and she also served on a number of boards for local arts organizations.
When Nunziata was hired, Eastes said, there was no way of knowing that an historic storm would flood Flat Street and threaten the building. There was no way to prepare for the truck that rammed into the theater's marquee while trying to avoid traffic on Main Street. And the board at the time did not know that Brattleboro Arts Initiative would become Latchis Arts, that more than half-a-million dollars would be needed to upgrade the theater or that any of the unforeseen challenges that crop up every day would occur.
Eastes says Nunziata was the perfect person to handle it all.
"Gail is so unflappable, and we knew that whatever happened that Gail would be the person who would be able to get the job done," Eastes said. "She is level headed and proactive. The board trusted her so much."
Nunziata says throughout everything that has happened over the past ten years she has received limitless support from the greater Brattleboro community.
Most immediately the organization's ability to raise the $550,000 needed to replace the seats in the theater and upgrade the ceiling only was made possible through the support of local supporters.
While some major grants came in, most of the money was raised though local donations.
"Everyone should be proud of what we've done here," Nunziata said. "Whatever we've done here we have always gone out to the community and asked, ‘What do want from us?' We recognize that we do at the Latchis means a lot of this community and we take that seriously."
"Gail is uniquely qualified for this job," said Latchis Arts Board President Lisa Bloch. "She has been an enormous asset in so many ways. She is very savvy. She has a strong opinion and she know what needs to be done, but she also works very well with large groups and she does it all with grace. We will miss her."
Bloch said the board has not yet figured out how it wants to move forward.
After the holidays the board will gather and set out its long range goals and figure out what kind of person it needs to move the organization forward.
Nunziata herself has no plans for beyond June 30.
She said she feels very good about her choice, and hopes to spend time with her husband, her grandchildren and her horse.
"I am going to do nothing until I want to do something," she said. "I am looking forward to that."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.