Parison, who was hired to replace longtime executive director Christine Jennings, leaves after nearly one year
This year has been a boon for the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. In the tail end of their 15th anniversary season, WBTT have had a joyous celebration in October 2014, critically and financially successful productions all this year, and a positive review in the "Wall Street Journal." However, before the end of this season, Richard Parison, WBTT's executive director, has resigned.
Hired to replace successful executive director Christine Jennings, who led the theater troupe to a budgetary surplus and a permanent perofrmance space from 2009 to 2014, Parison was hired before the beginning of this season for his lengthy theater and administrative experience. Parison had served in leadership positions at Richmond CenterStage (executive director/CEO 2009-2014), Barrington Stage Company (producing director/COO 2007-2010) and the Prince Music Theater (associate artistic director 2004-2007) and it was this extensive theater experience that appealed to WBTT's board of directors.
"The resignation wasn't a total surprise," says Julie Leach, president of WBTT's board of directors. "We had been talking to Richard about his plans for the next couple of years. We came up wiht our five-year plan and his career goals were elsewhere. I think he's probably looking for some place where he can take a leading role in an artistic venue."
According to Leach, Parison's resignation wasn't the result of some fallout between the short-termed executive director and the board. During his short tenure these last seven months have resulted in increases in fundraising, training employees at the theater in contract negotiations with the Actors Equity Association, and the introduction the the theater's new reserved seat policy.
"Richard was on the ball since day one, even though he was from out of town," says Leach. "He contributed to our strategic planning sessions this past Saturday and we appreciated his input."
Leach will serve as WBTT's interim executive director while the board commences a national search for Parison's replacement. Leach and the board hope to have a new executive director in place before the start of the company's 2015-2016 season.
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