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 Kitchen's successor.
Named by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the most influential women in business in the Bay Area for the past six years, Kitchen has helped to build A.C.T. into one of the country's foremost regional theatres. 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.
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 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," stated 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." *
Founded in 1965 by William Ball, A.C.T. opened its first San Francisco season at the Geary Theater in 1967.