Local Arts

Actor’s Theatre’s only executive director is leaving

ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Dan Shoemaker, the only executive director in the 27-year history of Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, announced his resignation Thursday.

His letter to patrons went out the morning after ATC opened its 28th season -- not yet in its new home on Freedom Drive, as the company is still getting city and county permits needed for occupancy, but next door at Center City Church & The Movement Center.

Shoemaker, as genial a host as ever Wednesday night, made no mention of impending retirement while introducing “The Toxic Avenger.” His letter Thursday said he was handing the reins to artistic director Chip Decker, general manager Martin Kettling and development director Bennett Rich, under the guidance of board chair Peter McGrath and vice-chair Karen Bernhardt. The transition will be complete next week.

Shoemaker, whose local impact dates back to the Mint Museum’s Golden Circle Theatre in the 1980s, reminded patrons of the founding of ATC in 1989, “when ’renegades,’ myself included, met at a local pizzeria and lamented the lack of professional theater opportunities in Charlotte. The mission then, as it is now, (was) to provide to the Charlotte region bold and innovative new works by contemporary playwrights.”

During his tenure, ATC gained a reputation as a respected regional theater, joined the National New Play Network to create shared world premieres, created the nuVoices festival -- in which new plays get public readings, and one winner gets a fully staged production -- and saw the annual budget grow to more than $1 million last season.

ATC began its long run at Spirit Square, then moved to a building of its own on East Stonewall Street and performed there for 12 seasons.

The landlord gave the company a year’s notice in 2015 and sold the building to a developer, who wants to put up residences and retail. ATC initially planned to move to a Louise Avenue location but settled finally on a former film studio at 2219 Freedom Drive. The company expects to do the rest of its 2016-17 season in that facility.

Toppman: 704-358-5232

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