Wednesday, July 6, 2016


The Diana Wortham Theatre is pleased to announce an upcoming leadership transition. After 20 years as Managing Director, John Ellis will retire in June 2017 and Rae Geoffrey, the theatre’s current Associate Director, has been named the organization’s new Managing Director effective July 1, 2017.

Under Ellis’s leadership the theatre has grown to be one the most active venues in all of Western North Carolina. He created the Mainstage Series of touring artists while also making the theatre a welcome home to many local arts groups. He has also developed a strong board of directors and a dedicated staff, making Diana Wortham Theatre a cornerstone of the cultural life in the area.

Ellis shared, “With my upcoming retirement, the Board of Directors has planned a phased transition process to support our theatre’s growth.  I look forward to working closely with Rae and also focusing on the upgrades to our theatre and development of additional venues.”

Geoffrey has a long background in theatre, community outreach, and arts management. She was hired in 2001 as the Director of Outreach, creating a successful education series serving 10,000 students each year, establishing the Y.E.S. (Youth Education Scholarship) Fund, and building a solid volunteer core. She was promoted to Associate Director in 2008 and in that role oversees staff management, organizational planning, and artistic programming. She has worked closely with Ellis to lead the theatre through its “Vision for the Future” Project to create and implement an organizational vision and plan.

Geoffrey’s leadership has been recognized by peers and colleagues who recently elected her as Board President of the North Carolina Presenters Consortium, a state-wide trade organization of presenting theatres across North Carolina and neighboring states, with more than 200 members including theatres, agents and managers.

“John’s contribution to our organization has been invaluable and his leadership has made us what we are today and we cannot thank him enough.  We are very fortunate to have another great leader within our organization who can lead us forward for the next 20 years. Rae’s experience here at Diana Wortham Theatre over the past 15 years has prepared her to take the helm when John retires, and I can speak for the board to say we are all excited to have such a highly qualified, competent, and passionate new leader in 2017," notes Hardy Holland, Board President of the theatre.

The Diana Wortham Theatre presents entertaining, enlightening, and enriching programs to residents of, and visitors to, Asheville and western North Carolina with live performances of music, theatre, dance and more by nationally touring artists (the Mainstage Series) as well as a wide array of performances and events by more than 35 professional and avocational regional arts groups.

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