The chief executive officer of the Wolf Trap Foundation and two other staff members yesterday announced their resignations, two months before the national park for the performing arts is scheduled to open its seventh season on June 6.
Charles H. Watts II. who left the presidency of Bucknell University nine months ago to take the foundation post, said his decision was based on a "fundamental policy disagreement."
The Wolf Trap Foundation operates on a $3-million annual budget and stages 80 productions of the summer season at the amphitheater in Vienna, Va.
Resignations were also filed by Paula Silver, chief publicist for the Wolf Trap organization, and by Mark Auerbach, who is in charge of box office operations.
Since the park opened in 1971, six persons have held the top administrative job. The position of press and publicity director has changed hands six times since 1971.
These employees have worked with Catherine Filene Shouse who, as donor of the property the Filene Center is built on, maintains daily contact with administrative staff. Mrs. Shouse, 80, generally interviews candidates for major positions at Wolf Trap.
Watts said in a statement yesterday, "My decision to resign was based upon a fundamental policy disagreement concerning the conduct of affairs of the foundation. When I understood the judgement of the executive committee of the board on this matter, I saw no alternative but to free the foundation to seek other leadership."
According to Robert Ferneau, vice chairman of the board of Wolf Trap, Watts wanted a sabbatical. Ferneau said he hoped Watts would become a board member "within the next few months." Other board officials said that Watt's differences with the executives committee were over matters of personnel.
Mrs. Shouse said yesterday that Wats "doesn't like a board to take responsibility. I think he wanted to concern himself with administration, but he was really begin asked to take care of development. It won't really disrupt anything because Bill Simon (the former Secretary of the Treasury) will take care of development for a while."
The resignations "will have no impact at all of the future of Wolf Trap," she said.
Silver resigned to take a publicity job with Warner Bros. Auerbach is said to have accepted a new post which pays $8,000 more than the $14,000 he was making at Wold Trap.
Watts' predecessors in the administrtive role have been Joseph Leavitt, now manager of the Baltimore Symphony, John Ludwig, now executive director of the National Opera Institute; Adm. Arthur Esch, whose tenure at Wolf Trap was three weeks; Irwin Scherzer, who held the administrative post in an acting capacity; and Carol Harford, who is vice president of the Wolf Trap Foundation. Following Tuesday's resignations, Harford was named acting president.
The publicity directors have included Murray Luck, Bernard Burt, Frank Bollinger, Anita Moceri, Luke Bandle and Silver. In addition, Hal Stites was brought onto the staff in charge of research and marketing, a post he held for several months before he resigned.
A major problem at Wold Trap since its opening has been the lack of a definite division of responsibilites between the board of directors and the administrative staff sources said yesterday. The board has imposed programming choices on officials hired to handle program planning, these same sources said, and has delegated little authority to persons in charge of publicity. As a result, the daily operation of business has been complicated, the sources said. At the moment, with a full-time publicist on its staff, Wolf Trap is now in the process of contracting the firm of Ruder and Finn to handle publicity.
Wolf Trap as a national park is given housekeeping maintenance for buildings and grounds by the National Park Service which pays the salaries of ushers, parking lot attendants, and house personnel. It also pays a subsidy to help erase the annual Wolf Trap deficit. The Park Service budget for Wolf Trap for 1976 was $1,599,000.
The Wolf Trap Foundation is a private, tax-exempt organization which makes program decisions, handles staging, box-office and all publicity and promotion. It also operates various educational programs and a composer's cottage for the use of creative artists.
A meeting of the board of directors has been scheduled for Friday.