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Syracuse Stage starts search for new managing director

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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Jill Anderson PHOTO CREDIT: SYRACUSE STAGE WEBSITE

SYRACUSE — The board of trustees and senior management of Syracuse Stage are developing a plan to find the theatre company’s next managing director. 

That plan will be announced soon, according to an April 2 Syracuse Stage announcement that Jill Anderson, its managing director since 2016, will leave the organization this summer after eight years.

Anderson is departing to become managing director of the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company, the nation’s largest and most acclaimed theatre for young people, the Syracuse Stage said. 

“When she arrived in Syracuse, Jill brought with her the wisdom that comes from working with the best and brightest of the American Theatre, and she leaves Syracuse Stage with a foundation that will carry us well into the next 50 years,” Rocco Mangano, chair of the Syracuse Stage board of trustees, said in a statement. “Jill is both a keen administrator and a tireless champion for the arts, qualities that have made her not only a successful leader but a cherished colleague and friend. On behalf of the entire Board, I extend eternal gratitude for everything Jill has helped us accomplish.” 

She will continue as managing director at Syracuse Stage for the remainder of the 50th anniversary season, concluding her eight-year tenure when she departs at the end of the company’s fiscal year in early July, per the announcement.

“Being part of Syracuse Stage and the Central New York community these last eight seasons has been a tremendous privilege,” Anderson said in a release. “I’m so proud of what Stage’s staff and board have built — upon an already strong foundation — and look forward to seeing a thriving Syracuse Stage in the years ahead.”

Located at 820 E. Genesee St. in the city, Syracuse Stage is the nonprofit, professional theatre company in residence at Syracuse University.

Anderson joined Syracuse Stage at about the same time that Robert Hupp started serving as artistic director in 2016. She was responsible for fundraising, marketing, and operational oversight during seven straight years of operating surpluses. 

Her work to strengthen the company’s financial foundation helped Syracuse Stage maintain full employment during the pandemic while positioning the company for future growth, the organization said.

Under Anderson’s leadership — and in partnership with Hupp and the board of trustees — Syracuse Stage boosted its reputation as a leading regional theatre, the organization contends. 

The company produced two world premieres which later transferred to Broadway. They included “Thoughts of a Colored Man” and “How to Dance in Ohio,” which “deepened its relationship” with other regional theatres and producers through co- and enhanced-productions and developed commissioned work from nationally recognized artists and playwrights — all while expanding its community engagement and educational programming for local patrons, students. and families, per the announcement.

“Together, we have increased Stage’s visibility locally and nationally, worked to secure the organization’s future, and mounted an extraordinary response through and since the pandemic,” Anderson said. “I am more grateful than I can express for the opportunity Syracuse Stage gave me in 2016, and for the relationships I will take with me into this next chapter as I return to the Upper Midwest.”

Besides her work with Syracuse Stage, Anderson taught theatre-management courses in the Syracuse University Department of Drama. 

As part of the company’s 50th anniversary season, Anderson oversaw the launch of an “ambitious” fundraising campaign. It prioritized updating essential production equipment through capital investments, and the creation of a permanent education and community engagement fund to support vital programming for Central New York residents. 

The company also established the Julie Lutz New Play Development Fund, with an inaugural gift of $1 million to be used for the creation of new work with a particular focus on sharing stories from underrepresented voices, Syracuse Stage said.

“While we celebrate this next chapter in Jill’s life and career, the news is bittersweet,” Hupp said. “It has been a highlight of my career to work in partnership with Jill these past eight seasons, and everyone at Syracuse Stage will miss Jill’s warm-hearted and thoughtful leadership.” 

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