TheatreWorks’ new executive director readies for community engagement – The Mercury News

TheatreWorks’ new executive director readies for community engagement – The Mercury News

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has named a veteran arts administrator as its new executive director.

Debbie Chinn comes to TheatreWorks after working as managing director for playwright Anna Deavere Smith’s Pipeline Projects. Her first day at TheatreWorks will be Nov. 15, when she’ll be replacing Phil Santora, who left TheatreWorks at the end of July after 15 years with the company.

Chinn’s career in theater administration spans 30 years. She recently served as the board president of Theatre Bay Area and has previously served on the boards of Theatre Communications Group and Association of California Symphony Orchestras. She is currently on the boards of the Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco and the San Francisco Community Music Center and is on the Leadership Council for National Small Business Association.

As executive director of Carmel Bach Festival, Chinn not only oversaw the festival’s administrative functions but also curated year-round artistic and educational programs. As managing director of California Shakespeare Theater, she led Cal Shakes’ $8.5 million capital campaign.

“We feel so lucky to have engaged Debbie at this juncture, fresh from her important work with Anna Deavere Smith, which inspired Debbie’s deep re-examination of the role theater can and should play in our modern lives,” TheatreWorks board chair Holly Ward said in a statement. “Her experience in community building, as evidenced by her extensive work with the Carmel Bach Festival in expanding its reach into the nearby Salinas Valley, gives us confidence that she will provide the outreach we are looking for to further engage our entire Bay Area community.”

Outside of California, Chinn has served as the interim director of development programs for the Philadelphia Orchestra Association and as managing director of Baltimore Center Stage, and has worked with Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. She said in a statement that she’s happy to be working close to home with TheatreWorks.

“Since moving to this region in the early 1990s, I have long been aware of TheatreWorks’ consistent spirit of artistic innovation and commitment to providing a creative home for artists, artisans and the greater community,” she said. “This is an exhilarating moment for all of us in the arts industry as we come together to design a whole new model for what it means to be a regional theater and a meaningful member of the communities that we serve.”

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