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July 12, 2013

EKU Center for the Arts director finalists both have records of success

RICHMOND — The two finalists to become the EKU Center for the Arts’ executive director differ in age and personality, but both have strong records in arts-venue management that have impressed those who met and interviewed them.

The second of the two finalists, Bruce Marquis, was in Richmond on Thursday to interview with the search committee, tour the facility and meet local leaders.

The center’s community board hopes to announce the new director at its monthly meeting 3 p.m. Wednesday, said Chair Harry Moberly.

Like Joel Aalberts, who was in town Tuesday, Marquis’ résumé includes management of university-related performing arts centers.

While in Lincoln, Neb., Marquis said he led an effort which increased University of Nebraska students’ attendance and involvement in the school's performing arts center by 30 percent.

He now runs his own arts management firm, Marquis Arts Consultants, offering “strategic, artistic, branding and audience development planning services to nonprofit cultural organizations.”

Marquis also has been executive director of the performing arts center at the University of Northern Iowa.

By coincidence, his consulting firm is based in Bloomington, Ill., where Aalberts directs a 1,200-seat performing arts center.

The success of facilities such as the EKU Center depends on serving and cultivating their diverse base of stakeholders, Marquis said. Those include state and local governments, the university and  the business, industrial and tourism sectors as well as ticket purchasers and others.

While the EKU Center may be different with a board that represents the university and three local governments, most performing arts centers rely on public-private partnerships for their success, he said.

Providing services and incentives to business and industry are important ways of developing their support in addition to asking for their philanthropy, Marquis said. Conferences and shows for employees are examples of that.

At one venue he managed, Marquis said he secured a $50,000 grant from the state tourism board to construct an outdoor stage for summer shows.

And he has a record of success in dealing with state legislators, Marquis said.

That will be important to maintain, said Moberly, a former legislator. For each of its first years of operation, the center has received a state subsidy, he pointed out.

State Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, attended Thursday’s luncheon for Marquis at Arlington House. Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, attended Tuesday’s luncheon for Aalberts.

Bill Robinson can be reached at editor@richmondregister.com or at 624-6690.

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