Mark Cole, Arizona Theatre Company's managing director, resigned Tuesday.
Though he gave a 90-day notice, the chair of ATC's Board of Trustees, Robert Glaser, said that Cole is flexible, and that "he'll leave at the end of December, in 90 days, or in two days," whichever works best for the board.
"I'm anxious to move forward," said Glaser.
The resignation was too fresh to determine the next step, Glaser said. The board is expected to meet in the next few days.
Cole did not return calls made to his cellphone Tuesday afternoon, but in an email to staff, he said, "I have been approached by a number of organizations about various projects that I will be considering after my departure."
Cole's resignation means that ATC could be leaderless by the end of the year - David Ira Goldstein, the company's artistic director, is slated to step down in December after 22 years in the position.
Cole's two-year tenure at the company has been a contentious one as he swiftly moved to make organizational and personnel changes.
In addition, ATC's 2013 fiscal year ended June 30 with a $ 1million deficit, the result of over-ambitious budgeting and disappointing fundraising.
Support for Cole was divided among ATC's board. John Schaefer, the former president of the University of Arizona, and Michael Kasser, the president of Holualoa Co., both board members (Schaefer ended his tenure in June) and key financial supporters of the company, were among those who withheld support. They told the Star in June that they were waiting for Cole to clarify a strong vision and direction for the company.
"I think one of the strategic points of Mark's decision was that he realized how important the significant donor support in Tucson is to the theater," said Glaser, a strong supporter of Cole's.
Glaser said he has already been in touch with "a significant donor" to discuss "what it will take to bring donors back in."
Joanie Flatt, also a member of the board, called the resignation "a new beginning" for ATC.
"We'll have new leadership; we won't have fractions of the board in this camp or that camp. This gives us an opportunity to do what we need to do - focus on making ATC the most wonderful, professional theater in the state, if not the region."
Cole's resignation may be just what the theater needs, said Joan Cauthorn, a long-time ATC supporter and former board member.
"I'm excited we're making a move because we lost the community," she said.
"Now let's get them back."
"I think one of the strategic points of Mark's decision was that he realized how important the significant donor support in Tucson is to the theater."
Robert Glaser, chair of ATC's Board of Trustees