Painter Sues New York’s Children’s Museum of the Arts, Claiming He Was Abruptly Terminated as Director

Artist Seth Cameron, the former director of the Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA), filed a lawsuit against the New York institution, alleging that it breached his contract when it abruptly ended his leadership in November. 99dewa

Cameron took on the role of executive director of the CMA in February 2020, less than a year after the death of former the museum’s former leader, Barbara Hunt McLanahan, in June 2019. Prior to joining the museum, Cameron helped start the Bruce High Quality Foundation artists’ collective and served as president of its art school, BHQFU. He has also exhibited his paintings produced solo.

According to the court documents, during the pandemic, Cameron was instrumental in securing financial assistance, including applying for grants and loans from the Nonprofit Finance Fund, organizing a fundraising campaign that brought in $125,000, and renegotiating the CMA’s lease, which allegedly saved the organization $250,000. 

According to the lawsuit, Cameron’s tenure ended November 17, 2023, when he was terminated by the museum’s leadership. His departure from the museum had not previously been reported in the press.

The termination was allegedly attributed to budgetary concerns and performance issues raised by Allison Russo, who became president of the CMA board of directors in 2023. This triggered a series of negotiations regarding Cameron’s severance package. 99dewa

Per the court documents, Russo’s budgetary concerns were raised despite the board of directors unanimously approving Cameron’s proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year.

Initially, the CMA proposed a severance payment of $12,147.69, which Cameron rejected. Then, he hired counsel to negotiate for a higher settlement. After subsequent negotiations, an agreement was reached for a severance payout of $19,658.18.

Yet the lawsuit alleges that the CMA later reneged on this agreement, citing a dispute with a leasing company over payment obligations, and ultimately refused to honor the agreed-upon amount.

The lawsuit seeks damages for breach of contract, payment for accrued unused paid time off, and attorney’s fees. When asked about the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the museum told ARTnews: “We cannot comment at this time as the matter is still developing.” 99dewa


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