ATL board president Philip C. Eschels announced the appointment of Jennifer Bielstein as the 42-year-old, non-profit professional theatre's new managing director. Bielstein, an accomplished theatre executive for over 15 years in the Chicago area, will assume her position in November 2006.
"Actors Theatre is so very fortunate to have had such talented and strong leaders throughout its history," said Eschels. "In this tradition, Jennifer Bielstein has demonstrated an outstanding entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the theatre through her leadership in both national and local theatre communities. Jennifer also has a proven record of success that demonstrates her strong business acumen, which will complement [artistic director] Marc Masterson's inspired artistic vision as they jointly lead Actors Theatre to new heights of success."
"Jennifer will be a tremendous asset to our work at Actors Theatre and to the Louisville community at large," stated artistic director Marc Masterson. "Her strong management experience and exceptional personal qualities make her the perfect choice for Actors. I look forward to a fruitful partnership as we anticipate a future filled with opportunity in our work as a leader in the American professional theatre."
Bielstein's appointment follows a national search that focused on a selected group of candidates acknowledged to be among the country's top theatre administrators.
The theatre's 2005-06 season surpassed its ticket revenue projections by nine percent and, compared to this same period last year, season subscription sales for the upcoming 2006-07 season are up nearly 10 percent. Additionally, Actors Theatre's Next Generation of Excellence Capital and Endowment Campaign is closing in on its $12 million goal, having raised $11,620,000. As executive director of Writers' Theatre, located in the Chicago suburb of Glencoe, IL, Bielstein directed the company through several significant landmarks in a three-year period, including operational and financial growth of almost 125 percent, an increase in attendance by 88 percent, and doubling contributed support for annual operations in partnership with the theatre's Board of Trustees.
In addition, she oversaw the opening of the company's second venue as well as completion of its related capital campaign. During her tenure as director of marketing and communications at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, she orchestrated a season ticket campaign that resulted in 100 percent subscription capacity for the first time in the theatre's history. She also created and executed Steppenwolf's first formal brand identity program, and increased the company's earned income from $3.2 million to $5.7 million.
Bielstein has served as a consultant for Chicago's Court Theatre, About Face Theatre and Free Street Theatre. As an officer of the board of the League of Chicago Theatres, she helped develop a strategic plan for the League, a membership organization promoting, supporting and advocating for over 190 Chicago-area theatres. She was a member of the steering committee for the Chicago Dance Community Research Project and has been a panelist for programs at the Arts and Business Council, Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Business, Roosevelt University, the American Marketing Association and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Bielstein stated, "I have long admired Actors Theatre, and it is exciting for me to bring my skills and experience to one of the country's most innovative theatres. I am honored by the appointment and look forward to immersing myself in the Louisville community and to working with Marc, and the Actors Theatre board, staff and artists."
A native of Houston, Texas, Bielstein is married to Shane Spaulding, who works in corporate theatre. Bielstein replaces 40-year veteran Alexander Speer who retired April 3 as executive director of Actors Theatre.