Long Wharf, Hartford Stage Pick High-Profile Leaders
June 1, 2006
By FRANK RIZZO, Courant Staff Writer
Two Tony Award-winning regional theaters in Connecticut on Wednesday named high-profile figures as their new managing directors who will oversee major building drives and help stabilize the institutions' finances.
Michael Stotts, former managing director of Long Wharf Theatre, takes over in the same role at Hartford Stage, overseeing an $8 million annual budget. He will work with Michael Wilson, who is entering his ninth season as artistic director. Stotts, 45, succeeds Jim Ireland, who resigned in December after three years.
Joan Channick, managing director of Theatre Communications Group, a national service organization for not-for-profit professional theaters, is the new managing director at Long Wharf. She will work with Gordon Edelstein, who is entering his fifth year as artistic director.
Channick, 50, who takes over Sept. 1 with a three-year contract, succeeds Stotts, who resigned last fall after two years, citing "philosophical conflicts with the board about how a theater should be run." Long Wharf's annual budget is $6 million.
The boards of the two theaters unanimously OK'd the appointments Wednesday. It will mark the third managing director for each theater in less than seven years.
Both theaters are planning building projects. Hartford Stage's board will announce later this month what could be its largest multi-million dollar campaign - to renovate and expand its facility at 50 Church St.
Long Wharf Theatre's plan to move to downtown New Haven on the site of the former Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been stalled for two years since then-Gov. John G. Rowland announced the state would supply $30 million in state bonding money for the capital-endowment project. The project's cost was estimated to be about $60 million. The current lease for the 41-year-old theater at the New Haven Food Terminal runs to 2009, with a possible extension for two years.
Both not-for-profit theaters also face six-figure deficits for the 2005-06 season. Long Wharf anticipates a $500,000 shortfall which will be underwritten by the board by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Hartford Stage foresees a deficit of less than $200,000 for the 2005-06 season.
Prior to Long Wharf, Stotts was managing director for the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison, N.J., and the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J. He began his career in 1986 as company manager for off-Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club. Since leaving Long Wharf, Stotts has been a consultant at the Paper Mill Playhouse of Millburn, N.J., as well as at Hartford Stage, following Ireland's exit. Hartford Stage's former managing director, Stephen Albert of the theater consulting firm Albert Hall & Associates, assisted in the search. Stotts will begin his five-year-contract July 31 at the 43-year-old theater..
The Canadian native, who lives in Guilford, is a graduate of Queen's University in Ontario and Columbia University in New York
This will be Channick's first time running the business side of theater. She worked as the associate managing director of Center Stage in Baltimore and as marketing director of the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven. Channick, who has been deputy director at TCG since 1998 and lives in Stamford, also teaches a course on law and the arts at the Yale School of Drama. She is also director of the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute.
Preceding her theater career, she practiced securities litigation with the Boston law firm of Gaston Snow & Ely Bartlett. She is a graduate of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Yale School of Drama.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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