Scott Feehan, president of Festival International de Louisiane’s board of directors, is the event’s interim executive director. The announcement came at a press conference Tuesday, a day after Missy Paschke-Wood, the festival’s director for two years, resigned.
Feehan said Paschke-Wood gave no reason for her resignation. He described Paschke-Wood’s departure as “an amicable break” and said she will help the festival staff through its transition to a new leader.
Festival officials hope to begin advertising for a new director in three to four weeks. Feehan hopes to have the new director well in place before the downtown Lafayette festival, billed as the largest outdoor, free Francophone event in the United States, celebrates its 30th anniversary April 20-24.
Paschke-Wood, who gave birth to a daughter July 23, did not attend Tuesday’s press conference.
“There’s no negative to this,” said Feehan. “Resignations happen all day, every day, all around the world. She did not say ‘I am gone. Don’t call me. Don’t do anything.’ She is with us.
“There are several grants for projects that are being applied for. She is with us to make sure the transition goes smoothly. She’s going to do anything and everything we need to get through it.”
Feehan was complimentary of the “new ideas, new ways of thinking” that Paschke-Wood contributed as director. Last year, the free festival unveiled its first paid passes. The passes, structured at various donation levels, offered access to bathrooms, express beverage lines, a rooftop lounge at Parc Sans Souci and other perks.
Feehan said the festival passes will remain, with some tweaks still being processed. After last year’s rain, the rooftop lounge will probably not return.
“Over the years, festival has been marketed as a free event,” said Feehan. “It’s absolutely not free. We have to come up with between $1.3 and $1.6 million every year to put this thing on. In the beginning, we had a lot of support from local government, foreign governments. We had a lot of things in place that helped us along.
“Right now, it is completely up on us on how to make this sustainable. We rolled out the passes last year. We got some good feedback. We did get some bad feedback. We made some mistakes. We have a great plan. We’re going to make some changes. But we do feel good about the plan moving forward. I think it’ll be embraced very well by the community.”
The festival’s next director will become the event’s third director in three years. Dana Baker, who preceded Paschke-Wood, resigned in 2013 after starting in 2000.
Feehan is not alarmed by the recent resignations.
“There’s no reason for concern. The board is in a good spot. We have great leadership at the board level. The staff is great. We have a very stable staff at the foundation.”