After concerns arose last week about noise and crowding, a leadership development conference planned for early June in Oak Bluffs will change venues.
“To accommodate a much larger-than-expected group, we will relocate the conference to the Featherstone Center for the Arts,” Sean Findlen, a spokesman for The Partnership Inc., wrote in an e-mail to the Gazette.
A career mentoring firm dedicated to professional support in management and at the executive levels for people of color, the Partnership is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. American Express chief executive officer Ken Chenault is the keynote speaker. Organizers had planned to hold the leadership conference at the Island Inn in Oak Bluffs. Between 300 and 400 people are expected to attend, a large increase over the last time The Partnership hosted its conference on the Island 10 years ago.
Ann Smith, executive director of Featherstone, volunteered the use of the arts center’s Barnes Road campus following a lengthy debate before the Oak Bluffs selectmen late last week when the Harthaven Association objected to the planned use of a tent at the weekend conference. Ms. Smith had attended the meeting to request an annual entertainment license for Featherstone’s summer flea market and Musical Mondays series.
“We are happy to have them, we have the space available,” she told the Gazette. She stressed that she did not intend to take anything away from the Island Inn, and that it was rare for Featherstone to host such large private gatherings.
Organizers for The Partnership had first asked to put up a tent at the Island Inn during the weekend of June 7 to 9. Carol Fulp, President and chief executive officer of The Partnership, attended the selectmen’s meeting Thursday to answer questions about the proposal.
Organizers of the event will also apply to the selectmen for a one-day liquor license.