Film Society ouster upsets volunteers

OLYMPIA - After 21 years of involvement with the Olympia Film Society, Jeff Bartone was dismissed recently as operations manager because of "rude and abrasive behavior," he said he was told by the society's board.

About 20 volunteers, including 15 projectionists, have stopped volunteering at Capitol Theater in protest. As a result, no one was available to run about four film showings last week.

Theater manager Audrey Henley said Friday that she doesn't expect more showings to be canceled.

"Others have picked up the slack, and they are training more folks," she said.

Henley said the board has not made a final statement on the matter because it still is looking at requests made by the volunteers.

She said she couldn't comment about Bartone for legal reasons, "but there's a lot of information about what happened," she said.

Adam Broomfield, a volunteer for seven years with the society who stopped volunteering, said he supports Bartone and didn't like the way the dismissal took place. He and other protesting volunteers are asking for another vote because there now are eight members on the board instead of five.

Broomfield said board members seem to have a different vision of what the society should be. In the past, it has always been focused on the arts. The new board seems to be driven more by economics, he said.

Bartone said the goal always has been to provi de media arts of an independent culture, but that does not mean economics wasn't important.

"We earned our keep," he said. "We prided ourselves in that. But we wouldn't put any old crap before the consumer."

Bartone said the society transformed Capitol Theater, which was a "derelict old theater on its last gasp."

He knows not everyone is a fan.

"It's a shaggy dog downtown that devalues real estate," he said.

Bartone said that although he's not happy about his

Aug. 21 dismissal, "I don't

wish the film society any injury."