REDWOOD SHORES, CALIF.: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has announced that executive director Phil Santora will step down in June 2022 after a 15-year tenure. Santora has been with the company since 2007, with his accomplishments since then including leading the theatre, alongside founding artistic director Robert Kelley, to a 2019 Regional Theatre Tony. Santora is relocating to Portland, Ore., where his husband’s career is now based. TheatreWorks will conduct a national search for Santora’s replacement, with the expectation that his replacement will be in place by Santora’s departure.
“Phil’s brilliant mind, passion for theatre, and tireless work have helped TheatreWorks grow into a celebrated leader in the American theatre world,” said artistic director Tim Bond in a statement. “He was a fierce partner as I began my time at TheatreWorks and has continued to work alongside me paving the path for a bright new future for this theatre, one committed to furthering its artistic excellence, innovation, diversity, and integrity. I wish Phil well as he starts his new chapter in the Northwest.”
Prior to joining TheatreWorks, Santora’s career included serving as managing director of Chicago’s Northlight Theatre and Atlanta’s Georgia Shakespeare Festival, as well as development director for Great Lakes Theatre Festival and George Street Playhouse. Santora also held multiple positions at the Yale Repertory Theatre and worked on the Broadway opening of the musical Black and Blue. Santora served on the boards for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the League of Chicago Theatres, and Atlanta Coalition of Theatres in addition to serving on the executive committee of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT). He was named 2000’s Best Arts Administrator by Atlanta magazine and received the Atlanta Arts and Business Council’s 1998 ABBY Award for Arts Administrator.
Among his signature achievements at TheatreWorks, Santora created a partnership with Universal Theatrical Group/Universal Pictures to produce the world premiere of Stephen Schwartz’s The Prince of Egypt, the musical based on the animated film.
“The board fully appreciates Phil’s hard work and dedication to TheatreWorks and has witnessed firsthand his active role in TheatreWorks’ myriad accomplishments,” said Holly Ward, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s board of trustees chair, in a statement. “Phil’s business acumen as well as his artistic insight have helped shape our esteemed theatre into the respected organization it is today. After 18 months without live performances on our stages, it is thanks to Phil and Tim’s robust leadership and the support of our loyal donors and devoted audiences that TheatreWorks has come out of this uncertain period strong and ready to share remarkable new work with our diverse Silicon Valley audiences.”
During his tenure at TheatreWorks, Santora led the company from a structural deficit to eight consecutive years of balanced operational budgets and grew its endowment from $2.1 million to more than $5 million. He also oversaw the creation of three capital campaigns, and he and his husband, Cristian Asher, conceived and created the company’s “Not-a-Gala” event. Santora also worked closely with Bond to engage the company in the work of becoming a more equitable, diverse, anti-racist, and inclusive organization. Additionally, Santora led the company through the retirement of Kelley and the hiring of Bond as TheatreWorks’ new artistic director.
“When Robert Kelley announced his retirement, I embraced the opportunity to work with the TheatreWorks community as we sought the next leader to take the helm of this incredible organization,” said Santora in a statement. “Six years later, we’ve found an amazing artist and remarkable leader in Tim, who is the perfect person to help guide TheatreWorks through the next phase of its remarkable journey. I am thrilled with the work TheatreWorks has accomplished, and excited about the direction ahead.”
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