Since 1985, managing director Ben Moore has helped shepherd the Seattle Repertory Theater through ups (such as Peter Brook's Hamlet) and downs (such as the John Denver Christmas show) and a small dinner party's worth of artistic directors. Today, he announced he will leave the theater next June.
I hope he gives generous and candid exit interviews—I'd love to hear him talk about the way things have (and haven't) changed for Seattle theaters and theater in general during his career. He joined the American regional theater experiment before 1970, just as things were getting hot: In 1961, there were 23 regional theaters in the US. By 2003, there were over 1,800. Now Moore is leaving at a moment of crisis for regional theaters and maybe even the twilight of that era.
He has tales to tell, but he's also shrewd. One doesn't survive as the managing director of a city's most hifalutin theater (give or take, depending on the year) by being a loose talker—and he's got several months left before he actually leaves the building.
Meanwhile, the obvious question is: Who's next? Who knows enough about budgets, investments, contracts, unions, grants, managing a staff, and how to finesse wealthy donors and board members—not to mention what happens on stage—to run the Seattle Rep?
The full press release about Moore's retirement is below the jump.
Seattle Rep Managing Director Benjamin Moore to Step Down in June 2014
Board of Trustees Announces Search Committee
Seattle, WA – Seattle Rep Board President Becky Lenaburg announced today that Managing Director Benjamin Moore has decided to step down from his position in June 2014 after 28 years of distinguished service to the Theatre. Lenaburg and Board Chair Shauna Woods have formed a search committee for Mr. Moore’s successor, aided by consulting firm Management Consultants for the Arts, Inc.
“For nearly three decades, Benjamin Moore has been a steadfast leader for Seattle Rep, guiding the organization through the changing—and, at times, challenging—landscape of regional theatre with integrity and good judgment,” stated Ms. Lenaburg. “Ben’s accomplishments at the Rep are countless. During his tenure, he secured Seattle Rep’s position as one of the most financially stable arts organizations in the country, spearheaded a successful multi-million dollar endowment campaign, and oversaw the fundraising and construction of the Leo K. Theatre. His contributions to the larger Seattle arts community and national theatre scene are significant. The SRT board and staff applaud him for his passionate leadership.”
Board Chair Shauna Woods added, “We are so grateful to Ben for shepherding the Rep through its 50th Anniversary season. Being the consummate professional that he is, he has given us ample time to search for a strong successor to fill his large shoes. We look forward to finding a fresh face to boldly lead this organization as we embark on our next 50 years.”
Mr. Moore’s history with the Rep is full of achievements. In 1990, he accepted the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre alongside then Artistic Director Daniel Sullivan, a first for a Seattle theatre. He has steered the organization through compliance for a National Arts Stabilization grant, two Wallace Foundation grants, and the fundraising and construction of the Leo K. Theatre, a $10 million second theatre space. In 2001, he led a consortium of Seattle theatres in producing Peter Brook’s The Tragedy of Hamlet. He also organized a consortium of five local theatres to develop technological advances in customer relationship management, and he has been instrumental in the building of the Cultural Resource Collective, a community database that has aggregated over one million unique arts patrons from the Puget Sound region. For his significant contributions to the Seattle arts community, Mr. Moore was honored at ArtsFund’s 25th Annual Celebration of the Arts Luncheon in May 2013, where he received the “Outstanding Achievement in the Arts” Award.
“Working alongside Ben at the Rep has been one of the great joys of my career—a truly collaborative and fruitful relationship,” stated Artistic Director Jerry Manning. “Although his contributions to the Rep have been incredible, I think his lasting legacy really lies in his considerable skill as a mentor. His spirit of camaraderie and encouragement has touched two generations of theatre practitioners across the country. And on a more personal note, I simply will miss seeing him every day. He’s always brought to this position a genuine love of the organization and all the people in it.”
Mr. Moore joined Seattle Rep in December 1985 and soon emerged as a leader in the local, regional, and national arts community, including service as chairman of the Seattle Arts Commission (1989), chairman of I.A.T.S.E. Local 15 Health and Welfare Trust (1994-2010), and board member of Theatre Communications Group, Tessitura Network, Inc., and Seattle Chamber of Commerce. He was appointed to the Washington State Arts Commission in 2001. Mr. Moore has served as a peer panelist and evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts, a consultant for The Bush Foundation in Minneapolis, and an instructor in arts management at the University of Washington. Before joining the Rep, Mr. Moore had a 15 year association with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco where he held the positions of production director, general manager, and managing director. He received a Senior Fellowship and a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College and a Master of Fine Arts in Arts Administration from Yale University School of Drama.
To quote Mr. Moore: “I’m excited about what’s next as I anticipate leaving the Theatre’s day to day operations behind and shifting my focus to a larger role in arts advocacy for the community. At the same time, it’s a bittersweet decision for me. I will miss the daily interactions with Rep staff and patrons. It has been an extraordinary privilege to lead this organization for the past 28 years, and I am extremely proud of the theatre we have created together.”
The Rep’s annual gala, slated for Saturday, March 15, 2014, will honor Mr. Moore’s extensive service to the organization and celebrate his many successes.