Ben Cameron, manager of community relations at Target Stores, has been named the new executive director of Theatre Communications Group. He takes over June 1 for John Sullivan, who stepped down from his executive directorship in December 1997.
A Yale Drama School graduate, Cameron has served as director of the Theatre Program of the National Endowment for the Arts (1988-92) and sits on the panel of the weekly Texaco Opera Quiz on broadcasts from NY's Metropolitan Opera.
Cameron comes into a newly restructured TCG, now in three divisions: Programs and Services, Publications, and Finance and Management, in order to address "artistic, management and governance needs."
According to TCG spokesperson Shirley Herz, Cameron will be welcomed into his TCG role with a by-invitation-only party at Broadway's Virginia Theatre, May 18.
Described by the Village Voice as an unpopular figure at TCG, Sullivan was apparently seeing as being too theoretical in his vision for TCG. He also ruffled feathers when he fired longtime staffer Lindy Zesch. Reached in December, Jim O'Quinn, editor of American Theatre (a TCG publication), told Playbill On-Line that an operations committee of the Board of Directors has been running the organization in the interim. Vicki Nolan (managing director of Yale Rep), Kent Thompson (artistic director of Alabama Shakespeare Festival) and Judy Rubin were the search committee.
O'Quinn assured Playbill On-Line that American Theatre has been doing business as usual: 10 issues a year (including two double-issues), with a circulation of roughly 25,000.
"We're just fine," said O'Quinn (Dec. 29). The Village Voice story was about change of leadership, but nothing's changed as far as what we're doing."
The Voice quoted TCG Board president praising Sullivan's financial acumen and admitting the difficulty of anyone following in TCG founder Peter Zeisler's footsteps.
O'Quinn declined to give his thoughts on Sullivan's tenure. Asked at the time what he hoped for in a new TCG honcho, O'Quinn told Playbill On-Line, "I hope for good leadership. TCG is the professional organization for the national theatre. It has a service orientation; I hope that continues to serve the field and focus on the art."
Founded in 1961, TCG "provides a variety of artistic, administrative and informational services to theatres and independent theatre artists, and acts as a forum for the profession and a resource for the media, funding agencies and the public."
TCG, "the national organization for the American theatre," also created the National Theatre Artists Residency Grant in response to their 1988 study of the needs of individual artists seeking "The Artistic Home."). Writers work on-site at theatres for a minimum of six months (and up to two years).
-- By David Lefkowitz