Thursday, February 4, 2010

SCR's Founders Begin Search for New Artistic Director

Martin Benson and David Emmes

COSTA MESA, Calif. (Feb. 4, 2010) — Forty-six years after founding South Coast Repertory, David Emmes and Martin Benson have decided it is time to begin the search for their successor. They have greenlighted a detailed leadership transition plan that is set to culminate later in the year with the naming of a new Artistic Director to join the leadership team.This does not mean, however, that Emmes, the Producing Artistic Director, and Benson, the Artistic Director, are retiring. They will continue to serve in their current capacities until a new Artistic Director is in place, at which point they will assume the titles of Founding Directors. In their new roles they will serve as counselors and advisers to their successor. They will continue to play an active role in assisting the new Artistic Director in the finding and development of plays, and they will continue to direct productions.

“We’re stepping back, but not away,” said Emmes. “We think it’s incredibly important that SCR not lose artistic momentum. We believe we can help the next leader through the transition period as he or she becomes familiar with the particular needs of such a large and complex organization.”

Though Benson and Emmes will be involved in the hiring process, SCR’s Board of Trustees will choose the new leader: “We know that in order to keep growing, the theatre needs new ideas, new blood, new chemistry,” Benson said. “SCR will need someone who is responsive to changing times and circumstances.”

SCR has always taken a deliberate, evolutionary approach to change, and the succession plan is no exception. It began to take shape at a board retreat in March of 2008 and has been continuously refined until the founders felt that it – and they – were ready to move forward.

“David and Martin are visionaries,” said Wylie Aitken, president of SCR’s Board of Trustees. “They transformed SCR from a company with $17 and a station wagon into a three-theatre complex with a $9 million annual budget and numerous awards, including a Tony. Together with the Orange County community, they’ve created one of the most successful and stable arts institutions in the country. We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate that they have led a process to ensure the continuity of SCR’s future artistic leadership. We are also grateful that they are willing to stay on to share their wisdom and insight as we identify a strong artistic leader to partner with our Managing Director, Paula Tomei, to carry on SCR’s long history of service to Orange County and the national theatre community.”

For more details read a Q&A with David Emmes and Martin Benson.

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