Guest Post from Elizabeth Huddleston, ACT Board President
Dear ACT Friends:
As you heard last week, ACT Executive Director Susan Harper retired as of October 8th. There are no words to fully express our deep appreciation for Susan and her endless hours of leadership at ACT for the past 16+ years. The staff and board members of ACT would like to host an event to celebrate Susan’s retirement and to show our gratitude for her many years of service at ACT. We know such an event should be an in-person event and will bring a large crowd, so we want to wait until the Spring of 2022, when – hopefully – we will have the pandemic behind us. So, keep your eyes out for an announcement later this year for a grand event in honor of Susan!
I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight some of Susan’s many accomplishments for our beloved theatre: under her tenure, the theatre expanded from a budget of less than $400,000 to a budget as high as $1.1 million. The theatre underwent a $1.6 million dollar renovation, updating and renovating the Mainstage theatre with lighting, new seats, and a new HVAC system, as well as an upgraded backstage area. Programming expanded for the youth theatre program and Mainstage ticket sales increased 67%. Her leadership, vision, love and passion for ACT will be greatly missed.
I would like to take this time to share with you how we are planning to move forward, as we bid farewell to Susan and begin to open our doors again. First, the ACT Board has named Tamara Sparacino, ACT’s long-time Managing Director, to serve as the Interim Executive Director for ACT while we re-structure the organization to more closely resemble the administrative and creative structures found at many theatres across the nation. Rather than having one Executive Director, we will form an organizational structure that will have co-leadership from a Managing Director and an Artistic Director. ACT will be hiring a full-time Artistic Director for the organization. This Artistic Director will oversee the artistic and production side of the theatre going forward. We are beginning a national search for this position in October and plan to fill this position as soon as we find the right person! Once this position is filled, Tamara will resume her duties as Managing Director and will work in partnership with the new Artistic Director. Together, they will co-lead our staff forward. Finally, we will be hiring a part-time Director of Development, who will be specifically focused on fundraising and grant development. We are delighted to be inviting new leadership to the table, and we are deeply appreciative to the amazing staff members that have stayed with us through the last 18 months of pandemic challenges.
I am pleased to report ACT is on very solid ground. Even though our doors were closed for 18 months, we found unique ways to thrive throughout the pandemic, including offering streamed performances, online classes and outdoor programming. Still, we are so excited to open our doors again for our 2021-22 Mainstage Season! Our first performance on the Mainstage is Clue (yes, based on the board game!) which opens Friday, October 15th. This will be our first Mainstage performance since February 2020! Please be sure to check out our COVID policy, and be sure to purchase your tickets for Clue! Season Subscriptions are also available (get yours here)!
I want to thank all of you for your generous support during the pandemic. Because of your generosity, ACT has been able to thrive during an incredibly difficult and challenging time. We ask for your continued support as we move forward into a new season!
Dr. Elizabeth Huddleston
President, ACT Board of Directors