The Public Theater announced today that Patrick Willingham, former President and Chief Operating Officer of Blue Man Productions, has been appointed the new Executive Director of The Public Theater, beginning November 28, 2011. After a thorough nationwide search, led by Chairman of the Board Warren Spector, Board Member Andi Bernstein, and Albert Hall and Associates, Willingham will join Artistic Director Oskar Eustis in running the award-winning Public Theater. The new partnership will focus on continuing the mission and extensive programming of The Public Theater while strengthening the organization for sustainability and future growth.
Interim Executive Director Joey Parnes, who also served on the search committee and was an important voice in helping to select the new Executive Director, will continue working with The Public on the national tour of HAIR. He will continue independently to produce and manage shows out of his Broadway office.
"This is an exciting time for Patrick Willingham to be joining The Public Theater. We are nearing completion of our $40 million GOING PUBLIC Capital Campaign and will be reopening our historic building in fall 2012," said Chairman of the Board Warren Spector. "Patrick will work alongside Artistic Director Oskar Eustis to continue to make The Public Theater one of the most exciting, important and diverse theaters in the country. The search committee did an extensive search and unanimously chose Patrick for his strong managerial skills, stellar financial background and deep love of the theater. We welcome Patrick back to Lafayette Street and know he will be an invaluable asset to the future of The Public Theater."
"Patrick has the experience, skills, ambition and heart to be a superb Executive Director for The Public. The search to find him was thorough, deep and careful; the man who has emerged from that search is a principled and wise leader. I am delighted Patrick has agreed to join us and look forward to a long and successful partnership," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "I also want to add my personal gratitude to Joey Parnes, who agreed to serve as interim Executive Director while we conducted our search and has been a sure and trusted steward of this wonderful ship over the last nine months."
"I am absolutely thrilled to have been selected to be the next Executive Director of an institution that is so vital to the cultural landscape of the city, and indeed the nation. While my journey to The Public may seem like a short walk across Lafayette Street, it is in fact the culmination of 20 years of work as a manager and an executive in the theater, and I am particularly looking forward to returning to my roots in the not-for-profit world in service of the unparalleled mission of The Public Theater," said Patrick Willingham. "Oskar is a true visionary, and I'm excited to partner with him, the Board and The Public's incredible staff to weld that vision to strategies and business practices that will strengthen The Public during its second half century."
The Public Theater opened its 57th season in September with the critically acclaimed Sweet and Sad, written and directed by Richard Nelson, followed by Mike Daisey's The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs that was extended three additional weeks due to strong reviews and audience demand. The downtown season this fall features three Shakespeare plays, Love's Labor's Lost, King Lear and Titus Andronicus, leading up to the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park next summer. Joe's Pub recently reopened in October with a beautiful new renovation and the ability to reserve seats online for the first time. Last month, the Ford Foundation announced a $2 million grant toward the building renovations that will make The Public Theater more accessible, more enjoyable and more relevant to the cultural landscape of the city. The building renovations are scheduled to be completed by summer 2012 with a grand reopening in fall 2012. In the spring, The Public will present two new world premiere musicals, The Total Bent by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, and February House by Gabriel Kahane and Seth Bockley. The Shakespeare in the Park summer season will be announced in early 2012.