Halperin To Step Down as President of League of Chicago Theatres; New Advocate for Windy City Stages Sought

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17 Feb 2005

Marj Halperin
Marj Halperin
Marj Halperin, president and CEO of the League of Chicago Theatres, announced Feb. 15 she will step down as head of Chicago's non-profit theatre collective, which bangs the drum for Windy City stages.

Halperin, who joined the League in 1997, plans to be on the job through June 2005 to see through several key League initiatives.

"We have done so much terrific work together — the board, our members, staff and I — that I know the organization is poised to take a great leap forward with fresh new leadership," said Halperin. "It has been an honor to serve Chicago's phenomenal theatre community, and I am forever changed as I reclaim my former seat as fan and subscriber."

Roche Schulfer, chair of the League of Chicago Theatres board of directors, and executive director of The Goodman Theatre, stated, "Of course we are saddened by Marj's decision, because no doubt, the League will miss her resolve, her negotiation skills, her wit, and her great ideas. However, we understand her desire to take a break from the stage, after what was certainly a successful eight-year run playing a challenging role — Chicago's number one theatre advocate. The League thanks Marj, and we wish her the best."

On Halperin's watch, League membership has increased from 98 in 1996 to more than 170 today; League revenue increased 42.5 percent, 1997 through June 2004; and contributed income (through grants, private and corporate contributions, and the annual Showtime! gala) jumped from $45,000 to $664,000.



An embezzlement scheme that had been crippling the organization for five years prior to Halperin's arrival was rooted out, stabilizing the organization. She also expanded the League's relationships with other arts and cultural organizations, local and state governments, the funding community, and the business world, according to the League.

Also during Helperin's time, Theater Fever, created and launched in 1998, is still an anchor event of Chicago's Winter Delights promotion; the League's web site Chicagoplays.com was launched in January 2001, and today receives over 60,000 unique visitors per month, from more than 70 countries; the League responded to the downturned economy following 9/11 with the "From the Streets to the Seats" public service campaign — a $500,000 program completed on a budget of $20,000; Chicagoplays, created in six weeks and introduced in September 2002, is now a 150,000-plus circulation monthly magazine, used by more than 80 theatres as their official show guide and publication; in January 2005, the League launched Theater Thursdays, its newest audience development program.

Halperin had a diverse career background prior to joining the League, most recently as marketing director for the Chicago Park District, where she developed the award-winning "Come Out and Play" logo and the parks' first mainstream media ad campaign. Previous positions include deputy for policy and communications for the Illinois State Treasurer; deputy press secretary for Mayor Richard M. Daley; and, Chicago Public Schools director of communications. She has also been an award-winning journalist.

The League will conduct a national search for Halperin's replacement. Providing staff leadership to assist the transition will be long-time League employees Barb Netter, who has been promoted from Business Manager to the new position, director of finance; and Lyle Allen, previously director of ticket services, now managing director.

The League of Chicago Theatres was founded in 1979. The group is "an alliance of theatres that leverages its collective strength to promote, support and advocate for Chicago's theatre industry locally, nationally and internationally."

The League develops audiences for Chicago's theatres by managing the network of seven area Hot Tix locations (including all Chicago-area Tower Records); the Play Money gift certificate program; publications including the monthly theatre program magazine Chicagoplays, and the Chicagoplays Theater Guide, found in hotels, theatre lobbies and tourism kiosks throughout the Chicago area.