Ex-managing director returning to cash-strapped Arizona Theatre Company

2013-08-02T00:00:00Z 2014-06-25T16:34:04Z Ex-managing director returning to cash-strapped Arizona Theatre CompanyKathleen Allen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Arizona Theatre Company is bringing back its former managing director in hopes of righting its financial house.

ATC's board of trustees, faced with a crippling deficit and low staff morale, has named Jessica Andrews its interim managing director. Andrews, who has a 16-year history with the company, rejoins ATC on Aug. 19, three days after its current managing director, Mark Cole, leaves. Cole, who had a rocky two-year tenure at ATC, announced his resignation late last month.

Andrews "is a calming voice, and she's known locally and nationally," said the head of the board, Robert Glaser. Andrews will stay on until her successor is found.

"And, frankly, she'll bring some stability and will be very effective in fundraising."

"When they asked, it didn't take much time to agree," said Andrews, who was ATC's managing director and then executive director before retiring in 2009. She came back as interim managing director in 2010-11, when the then-director left to take a job in New York City.

In addition, artistic director David Ira Goldstein has agreed to stay with the company through the end of the 2013-14 season.

The decisions to ask Andrews to return and Goldstein to stay, which were made Thursday, were unanimous, a signal that the board, which had been fractured about the company's leadership, has united.

The board's actions brought commitments from donors who had withheld their financial support because of internal turmoil and a lack of direction under Cole's tenure.

"They are back on track with their vision," said Michael Kasser, who had underwritten the season to the tune of $100,000 for close to a decade. On Thursday he recommitted that amount for the upcoming season. Kasser, president of Holualoa Cos., is a member of ATC's board.

"We now have a team that's tried and true, and that has brought great theater to Arizona," he said.

Former University of Arizona President John Schaefer had expressed dismay in June about the company's lack of leadership but is heartened by the latest news.

"I will do whatever I can to make ATC a success," said Schaefer, who ended his term on the board at the end of June.

ATC's financial woes grew under Cole's tenure, and the company, which stages full seasons in both Tucson and Phoenix, finished the fiscal year in June with a $1 million deficit.

Fundraising is an immediate necessity, Glaser said.

The hope is to bring in $1 million by October, he added.

With Kasser's commitment, and another $200,000 from former board members, $700,000 remains to be raised. A capital campaign designed to keep ATC financially healthy will be launched after the immediate need is met.

Kasser said he will actively help with the fundraising, as will Goldstein - a task that doesn't generally fall to an artistic director.

"Obviously, with the deficit, I would expect my fundraising efforts will be redoubled and a large area of focus for Jessica, the board and the staff."

Andrews said a united board will make raising the money possible.

"Everyone I've spoken to on the board has said they'll step up," she said between flights to a short vacation in Massachusetts.

"If we are all working in the same direction," it can be done.

The decision to stay through the upcoming season was an easy one, Goldstein said.

"Other than my family, there's nothing more important to me than ATC," he said.

"If I can help in any way to move us forward, continue to do good work and help plan for a new generation of leadership, I'm delighted to do so."

Glaser said a national search for both positions is expected to be launched in January, with a new team in place by the beginning of the 2014-15 season.

Did you know?

Sandy Rosenthal founded the Arizona Civic Theatre in Tucson in 1967. In 1979, a year after it began presenting plays in Phoenix, it became Arizona Theatre Company. It is the only regional theater in the country to present full seasons in two cities. For more information on the company or how to donate, go to arizonatheatre.org

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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