Jonathan Moscone to Leave Cal Shakes Artistic Director Post

The longtime artistic director will step down in August after 15 years at the helm of one of California’s largest Shakespeare theatres.

Jonathan Moscone.
Jonathan Moscone.

BERKELEY, CALIF.: The board at California Shakespeare Theatre has announced that longtime artistic director Jonathan Moscone will be stepping down this August after leading the company for 15 years.

For his next act, Moscone—a San Francisco native with strong ties to local history—will stay on in the Bay Area as the chief of civic engagement at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. “Leaving Cal Shakes was a very difficult decision, but the company is so strong that I have no doubt the board will be able to attract some of the country’s most talented artists to lead the theatre in the 21st century,” Moscone said in a statement.

He said that in his new post at Yerba Buena, he hopes “to build on my work at Cal Shakes, developing new methodologies and partnerships for the arts to matter more deeply to more people. This move goes beyond a career move for me; it is my passion to bring civic engagement and art together, and I am ready to put my passion to work.” He saluted the Cal Shakes staff, board and donors, and reserved a special word for “the most loyal, intelligent and risk-taking subscribers in the country.”

In Moscone’s 15 years at Cal Shakes, the theatre grew its budget from $2.1 million to $5 million. He also expanded the programming beyond Shakespeare to writers such as Shaw, Chekhov and Wilde, as well as such contemporary writers as Octavio Solis, Amy Freed and Richard Montoya.

Moscone also created a number of new programs at the theatre, including the Artistic Learning program, which serves 5,000 students annually throughout the Bary Area. In 2013, the board of Cal Shakes launched the Moscone Permanent Endowment Fund, a sign of the organization’s financial stability under Moscone.

“Cal Shakes has experienced tremendous growth and success under Jon’s visionary leadership,” said board president Jean Simpson in a statement. “Over the past 15 years, Cal Shakes has evolved from a summer Shakespeare festival to an organization renowned for its artistry, ambition, educational programs, and community impact. The entire board of directors joins me in thanking Jon for the work he has done, knowing that, due to his efforts, we are well positioned to find our next great artistic leader.”

Moscone will close out his final season by directing Charles Ludlam’s outrageous two-hander The Mystery of Irma Vep. He also plans to continue his directing career. The board has formed a committee to lead a national search for Moscone’s successor.

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