Heather M. Kitchen to Step Down as American Conservatory Theater's Executive Director
Heather M. Kitchen, now in her 14th season as executive director at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), will step down from her position at the end of August 2009.
San Francisco, CA, July 31, 2009—Heather M. Kitchen, now in her 14th season as executive director at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), will step down from her position at the end of August 2009. Ms. Kitchen will remain available to the company through the end of this year as a consultant and adviser during the transition process. The A.C.T. Board of Trustees is forming a search committee to conduct a comprehensive search for Ms. Kitchen's successor.
Named by theSan Francisco Business Times as one of the most influential women in business in the Bay Area for the past six years, Ms. Kitchen has helped to build A.C.T. into one of the country's foremost repertory theaters. Under her leadership, A.C.T.'s budget has grown from $11 million to last year's high of $19.5 million, annual fundraising has tripled, the company is on track to successfully complete a $30 million endowment campaign, and 11 of the 13 seasons she managed ended with the company in a surplus financial position. The company's growth has included the development and performance of new work and the addition of a third year to A.C.T.'s top-ranked Master of Fine Arts Program. Ms. Kitchen joined the company the same year that renovations to the historic American Conservatory Theater were complete; her work to retire the company's deficit and debt from those years remains among her most significant professional accomplishments.
"It has been an honor to be associated with the incredible artists, audiences, students, staff, and board of American Conservatory Theater," stated Ms. Kitchen. "Working alongside Carey Perloff in leading this institution has been a tremendous experience. With A.C.T. in strong financial and artistic shape and readying itself for the next round of strategic planning, now is the time to look toward the next professional chapter in my life. I thrive on the challenging issues that face the arts world and I look forward to another big opportunity to serve. Change brings about new energy and renewal, which will be wonderful and reinvigorating for both A.C.T. and for me."
"I am profoundly grateful for Heather's inspired leadership and devotion to A.C.T.'s staff, artists, audience, and trustees," said Artistic Director Carey Perloff. "She has been my collaborator in running this organization since 1996, and we have achieved a great deal together. I wish her the best for the future, and I know we will all miss her energy, enthusiasm, and sense of humor."
A.C.T. Board of Trustees Chairman Jack Cortis added, "Heather has made fantastic contributions to A.C.T. as a leader for 14 years. On behalf of the entire board of trustees, we want to thank Heather for her enormous contributions of time, energy, and personal resources."
Founded in 1965 by William Ball, A.C.T. opened its first San Francisco season at the Geary Theater in 1967. In the 1970s, A.C.T. solidified its national and international reputation, winning a Tony Award for outstanding theater performance and training in 1979. During the past three decades, more than 300 A.C.T. productions have been performed to a combined audience of seven million people; today, A.C.T.'s performance, education, and outreach programs annually reach more than 250,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1996, A.C.T.'s efforts to develop creative talent for the theater were recognized with the prestigious Jujamcyn Theaters Award.
Today A.C.T. is nationally recognized for its groundbreaking productions of classical works and bold explorations of contemporary playwriting. Since the reopening of the American Conservatory Theater (formerly the Geary) in 1996, A.C.T. has enjoyed a remarkable period of audience expansion and renewed financial stability. The company continues to produce challenging theater in the rich context of symposia, audience discussions, and community interaction.
Since 2001 A.C.T. has been home to a closely knit group of artists who bring fearless commitment, consistent excellence, and a transformational spirit to each role they inhabit onstage. Each of these core company members is given the security of a full-time contract with A.C.T., which allows them to develop a variety of roles throughout the season while teaching, directing, and mentoring young actors in the conservatory and participating in artistic planning for the theater.
The conservatory, led by Melissa Smith, now serves 3,000 students every year. It was the first actor training program in the United States accredited to award a master of fine arts degree that is not affiliated with a college or university. Danny Glover, Annette Bening, Denzel Washington, Benjamin Bratt, and Anika Noni Rose are among the conservatory's distinguished former students. With its commitment to excellence in actor training and to the relationship between training, performance, and audience, the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program has moved to the forefront of America's actor training programs, while serving as the creative engine of the company at large.
PHOTO EDITORS, please note:
Images of Heather M. Kitchen and Carey Perloff are available in the press photo section of the PRESS ROOM of A.C.T.'s website at http://www.act-sf.org/press.