Dallas — A managing director has been selected to replace the outgoing Heather Kitchen at the Dallas Theater Center. Her replacement is Jeffrey Woodward, whose experience includes Syracuse Stage and the McCarter Theatre Company in Princeton, New Jersey, where he served for 17 years under renowned artistic director Emily Mann.
Woodward has been in town looking for homes. In a phone conversation this morning, Woodward said he and his wife have been looking at Oak Cliff, but the home search is still in progress so anything can happen.
Woodward was notified about the position by a national search firm, the same one that found DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty, and the conversations with Moriarty and the board have been going on for months before he was officially hired. He has used that time to research this city.
"I’ve been impressed on a number of fronts with Dallas," he says. "It’s a place of tremendous growth, but what really impresses me is that the arts are at the table in all of this development and growth.
"... I’ve never experienced a cultural district like the one that is here," he says of the Dallas Arts District. "Part of my interest is to take advantage of the offerings here, but to talk about the ways we can all collaborate, which I understand has been happening already."
In his time at the McCarter, one of the initiatives he and Mann started was a program to develop new plays and work with emerging playwrights. Among the writers who came from that program was Nilo Cruz, who would later write the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics.
He also has experience in negotiating with and lobbying politicians and policy makers, something that will be important here.
"I ran a statewide arts advocacy group [in Syracuse], and we’ve been able to [increase] government support for the arts," he says. "In New Jersey, under [governor Jim] McGreevey, the arts support was eliminated. They wanted to get us to vote for a slot machine program that would portion some of those funds to the arts, and we said 'no' and lived to tell the tale.
"We worked with legislators on a hotel/motel tax giving to the arts, and that was accomplished with sitting down and talking," he adds.
Hopefully that experience will serve him well here, where there's much work to do to get the politicians to value not just the economic impact of the arts, but the educational value as well—something he is passionate about. In our conversation, he was excited to learn more about Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, which is in the Dallas Arts District, but also to talk about arts education throughout the city, especially in underserved areas.
Part of that means getting the politicans behind supporting and promoting the arts at all budget levels. They've got to recognize that the small and mid-size budget organizations are just as important as the large ones. They're all spokes on the same wheel, and you can't have a high-performance vehicle without them.
Here's more about Woodward from the DTC press release:
The Dallas Theater Center Board of Trustees announced today the appointment of Jeffrey Woodward as managing director of the 56-year-old organization. Woodward’s experience includes Syracuse Stage and 17 years at McCarter Theatre Center. The appointment follows the departure of Heather M. Kitchen, who announced her retirement in September 2014. Woodward will formally assume his post in mid-July.
"We are thrilled to have Jeff join the team at Dallas Theater Center," said DTC Board Chair Rebecca Fletcher. "During the months-long search for a new managing director, we reviewed many candidates with impressive qualifications. Jeff stood out because of his experience helping theaters cultivate their donor bases and developing long-term financial frameworks to support artistic growth. We have no doubt that Jeff's leadership will be of value for many years to come."
Woodward joins DTC from Syracuse Stage in upstate NY, where he has served as managing director since 2008. During his time there, in partnership with Producing Artistic Director Tim Bond, he helped broaden and improve the artistic offerings of Stage’s season, developed an array of marketing, community engagement and education programs that expanded the audience. He also produced two international exchanges with the Market Theatre and the Baxter Theatre in South Africa.
Prior to Syracuse, Woodward was the Managing Director of McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton New Jersey. As a partner with Artistic Director Emily Mann for 17 years, he transformed McCarter into one of the leading regional theaters in the United States and in 1994, McCarter was the recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. Woodward also helped lead a capital campaign to build a $14 million addition to McCarter which included a 380 seat theater and two rehearsal halls.
“I am very excited about moving to Dallas and joining Dallas Theater Center,” said Woodward. “The theater is in the midst of an amazing transformation. Kevin Moriarty and the staff have done an extraordinary job in elevating the artistic scope and quality of the productions while expanding the theater’s commitment to the community. The board of trustees, a large and diverse group of funders, and the audience have strongly embraced and supported this expansion of activity. The city is also in the midst of a transformation and I am thrilled that the arts are being seen as a key part of Dallas’ present and future.”
DTC Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty is looking forward to working with Woodward. “Jeff will bring to Dallas Theater Center his vast experience as a theater administrator, his deep love for the art form, and his impressive leadership skills, which will make him an incredible asset at this exciting moment of growth and transformation for DTC and North Texas. I am eager to begin working with him this summer to build on the work Heather has done and to continue elevating DTC’s work in our local community and within the national theater field."
Woodward holds a Bachelor of Arts from Pomona College and Masters of Business Administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He has served as a board member for a number of organizations including ArtPride New Jersey, Theatre Communications Group and League of Resident Theatres. Woodward has also served as panel chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts. Woodward will begin work at DTC immediately following current managing director Heather Kitchen’s departure in July.
“Being managing director of DTC over the last five seasons has been an enormous honor and privilege for me,” said Kitchen. “It was an ideal capstone to my 24 seasons as a managing director in both Canada and the US. My goal in coming to DTC was to help strengthen the administrative structure and help build its audience and fundraising, and I am proud of the progress we've made on both fronts. I am so delighted that Jeff, who I've known as a colleague for almost 20 years, is picking up the torch to continue that work.”