The League of American Theatres and Producers is pleased to announce the appointment of Jed Bernstein as its Executive Director. Bernstein, who is 40, comes to the theatre from advertising, where he was executive vice-president of Wells Rich Greene. He has maintained a strong, lifelong interest in theatre.
In his new job he will be looking after the interests of the Broadway theatre owners and producers and also of the road producers, for The League is truly a national organization reaching major stages across the country. Under his eye, as well, are union contracts, government relations, the urban environment for theatre and public relations on many levels.
A theatregoer with a remarkable record of attendance himself (153 times last year), Bernstein accepts as a chief responsibility of his new job a major attempt to build a loyal theatre audience and bring back the theatre-going habit.
Succeeding Harvey Sabinson, The League's Executive Director for the last 13 years who announced his retirement last spring, Bernstein inherits a League in strong shape but facing a persistent problem--loss of the traditional theatre-going audience while not building new audiences strongly enough.
"Broadway theatre-going is not important to enough people," said Bernstein. "Restoring Broadway to a place in people's lives will take some doing. That is the end goal. My most important job is to help build a very strong consensus on a central marketing plan among the members of The League--the theatre owners, the producers and the road managers--bringing them all together on a program." For that job Bernstein's advertising skills and experience, he feels, will be useful. In advertising, his role frequently was "to reconcile dissimilar interests"--those of the creative team with the account executives with the various representatives of the client on an agreed advertising campaign.
At Wells Rich Greene and before that at Ally & Gargano and Olgivy & Mather, Bernstein was involved in some major campaigns--developing a world-wide strategy for the 1994 Olympics, conducting multimedia campaigns for Showtime Cable Television, supervising American Express's advertising involvement with the performing arts.
Bernstein's interest in theatre was to some extent due to parental example: His father was a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, and his mother was production secretary of a theatrical group that evolved into the well-known Equity Library Theatre. Theatre was never an alien world in the Bernstein family.
He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in psychology and was chairman of the Pennsylvania Players, the performing arts group that also numbered Harold Prince among its members. Earning a post-graduate degree from the Yale School of Management, he took supplementary courses at the Yale Drama School in the last year of Robert Brustein as dean and in the first year of Lloyd Richards.
With his brother Doug, a composer and writer, Bernstein founded Steenstine Productions, producing business entertainment and industrial shows. Among its clients have been Reebok, Goldman Sachs, American Express, Forstmann-Little and the Democratic Convention Host Committee.
Bernstein has served on the board and executive committee of the Alliance of Resident Theatres (A.R.T./New York), where he helped create and promote the successful yearly "Passports to Off-Broadway" campaign. He has served on the advisory board of the Roundabout Theatre Company and has done volunteer consulting for Second Stage and the Manhattan Theatre Club.
In taking the League job, Bernstein said, "I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead The League into the twenty-first century. Working proactively for this industry and marketing Broadway globally is one of the greatest business challenges out there."
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