The board of directors of the nonprofit organization that runs AFRAM, Baltimore's largest ethnic festival, has dismissed its acting executive director and accountant after the festival ended up with poor attendance and overdue bills, according to the former employees.
Norman Ross, one of the founders of AFRAM 23 years ago, is the second executive director to leave the group in several months.
His departure occurs after AFRAM attracted about 11,000 paid visitors over three days in August, according to officials at Pimlico Race Course in West Baltimore, where the festival was held. That's a tenth of the attendance hoped for by AFRAM's volunteer steering committee.
As a result of that performance and sales that were lower than hoped for at an earlier fund-raising event, AFRAM has not given out the dozen college scholarships it normally awards at the festival each year.
Lloyd Mitchner, a longtime director of AFRAM Expo Inc., resigned three weeks before the festival, saying later that he thought it was heading for trouble. Corporate sponsorship money was coming in late, he said, and board members had taken over many functions from a steering committee of volunteers who historically had organized the event.
Ross, retired director of Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center, said he had hoped those rifts could be healed at a meeting after this year's AFRAM. But he said he was not invited to any more meetings.
"In effect, I understand I was fired at one of the board meetings," Ross said. "And since I didn't receive official word I resigned."
Beverly B. Carter, chairwoman of the AFRAM board, did not return telephone calls this week. Neither did treasurer Charlene Monts nor other board members.