Kimmel Center Appoints New CEO: Anne Ewers of Utah Symphony and Opera

Classic Arts News   Kimmel Center Appoints New CEO: Anne Ewers of Utah Symphony and Opera
Anne Ewers, president and CEO of the Utah Symphony and Opera, has been appointed president and CEO of Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for a three-year term effective July 9.

She fills the gap left by Janice C. Price, who announced her resignation last July to become CEO of Luminato, the Toronto Festival of Arts, Culture and Creativity, which launches its first season on June 1.

William P. Hankowsky, chairman of the Kimmel Center (which is home to eight resident arts companies, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet), said in a statement, "Anne Ewers has an indefatigable spirit and enormous energy. She is also an accomplished artistic director who has spent her entire career in the performing arts. She is an excellent fundraiser and a skillful administrator who knows what it takes to put great art on the stage."

The 55-year-old Ewers told The Philadelphia Inquirer that it is too soon to talk about her specific ideas for the Kimmel, especially as she has not yet heard a concert in Verizon Hall or the Perelman Theater, but that she is planning to devote significant time to fundraising, an aspect of the job she enjoys.

"I think one of the things to do is to really sit down with the board and the staff, and work together to determine our direction. I have some ideas and approaches, and I want to make sure we're all working side by side," she told the paper. "I really love working with boards; it's one of the most satisfying and exciting things. It's important for the board to be engaged as part of the process."

Ewers's noted fundraising skills will come in handy when tackling the Kimmel's significant debt, which, according to the Inquirer, stands at almost $30 million, a portion of which is left over from the center's construction.

Ewers became president and chief executive officer of the Utah Symphony & Opera in July 2002 upon the merger of the two organizations. During her tenure, she doubled the endowment from $18 million to $36 million, turned an annual structural deficit of $1.8 million into a $360,000 surplus, founded the Deer Valley Music Festival (which generates $1.9 million annually), launched the Symphony on its first European tour in 19 years (netting $850,000) and recorded the Symphony's first CD in 15 years.

Before the merger, she had a successful track record at Utah Opera, where she was general director from 1991-2002, increasing the company's budget from $1.5 million to $5 million and the subscription base by 20%, expanding the seasonal repertoire from three to four main stage productions and surpassing two capital campaign goals by raising more than $8 million.

Prior to joining Utah Opera, Ewers's positions included general director of the Boston Lyric Opera (1984-1989) and assistant stage manager at San Francisco Opera (1979-1981).

As an opera director, Ewers's most recent stage productions at Utah Symphony & Opera include Kurt Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petite Bourgeoisie in 2002-03 and Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire in 2004-05. She made her main stage debut with the San Francisco Opera in the 1988-89 season, directing La Gioconda; other artistic highlights include her direction of Wagner's Ring cycle, performed in Boston and New York, for Boston Lyric Opera.

An Ottawa native, Ewers has a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and Bachelor of Music from Fontbonne College (1974) and a Master of Music in opera production from the University of Texas at Austin (1977).

The news of Ewers's appointment comes six months after the Utah Symphony's music director, Keith Lockhart, announced that he will leave his post at the end of the 2008-09 season.

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