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Des Moines Community Playhouse Defines New Leadership Team


Des Moines Community Playhouse Defines New Leadership Team

David Kilpatrick named Executive Director; John Viars continues as Artistic Director; Nikki Syverson promoted to Director of Advancement

DES MOINES – March 27, 2017 – As it approaches its 100th year of bringing excellence in entertainment and education to Central Iowa, the Des Moines Community Playhouse today announced a restructuring of its leadership team. David Kilpatrick, La Crosse, WI, has been named executive director while John Viars will continue in his role as artistic director. Additionally, Nikki Syverson will be promoted to the position of director of advancement.

Since 1982, Viars has served as executive director and artistic director. As the Playhouse has expanded its programming and presence in the community, the decision was made to separate the position into the two roles of executive director and artistic director. As a leader in the Central Iowa theatre community for 35 years, Viars will narrow his focus to concentrate on selecting, producing, and directing plays. This change also allows the Playhouse to transition the duties performed by managing director Rod McCullough to other senior staff, as McCullough will retire on Apr. 1, 2017, after more than 12 years of exemplary service.

“The new leadership structure is vital as we look ahead to the challenge of providing the Des Moines community high-quality theatre and arts education for the next 100 years,” said Dennis Ogden, Playhouse board president. “The timing makes sense as our board executes the Playhouse strategic plan to address both Rod’s retirement now, and John’s plan to retire after our 100th anniversary in November 2019.”

Prep Iowa

Kilpatrick will join the Playhouse staff in May, immediately assuming the role of executive director. He has served as the executive director of the La Crosse (Wisconsin) Community Theater since 2010, and is also the executive director of the Weber Center for the Performing Arts, the facility that houses the La Crosse Community Theatre and Viterbo University theatre and arts programs, as well as community events. These institutions have a combined budget of $1.3 million.

Kilpatrick has broad experience in theatre and staff management, recently completing an $8.4 million capital campaign in La Crosse. Prior to moving to Wisconsin, Kilpatrick was artistic director of the Old Creamery Theatre Company in Amana, IA. In that role, Kilpatrick engineered a smooth transition for the theatre after the retirement of its founding director.

“I am excited to come to Des Moines and serve the Des Moines Community Playhouse as its next executive director,” Kilpatrick said. “I am so impressed by the quality of the work produced and the commitment to make theatre available to everyone.”

“Having led the Playhouse for more than 35 years, we know John Viars will leave incredibly big shoes to fill. We are excited that we have found the right team leader at the right time to move the Playhouse forward into the next 100 years of excellence,” said Ogden. “David brings a wealth of experience and lifelong devotion to community theatre. We look forward to him leading the team.”

Kilpatrick has a doctorate in theatre arts from the University of Missouri – Columbia, a graduate degree in theatre from Missouri State University, and an undergraduate degree from George Mason University.

“The Playhouse has an incredibly dedicated and talented staff that works hard every day to create outstanding theatre and arts education. I intend to continue to provide them the support they deserve,” Kilpatrick said. “As we enter the next 100 years, I hope to follow the traditions of the past while embracing the possibilities for the future.”

Syverson will assume expanded duties in her new role. She has been a strong part of the Playhouse leadership team since joining the theatre in 2014, and currently leads the second phase of its multi-million dollar capital campaign. In 2018, the Playhouse will complete a comprehensive renovation project including completely remodeling the mainstage auditorium and updating the entire facility on 42nd Street in Des Moines.

“We look forward to David, John, and Nikki working closely together over the next two years to effect a seamless transition and continue to strengthen the excellent programs in place at the Playhouse,” Ogden said. “They are all passionate about the role community theatre and arts education can play in changing lives and creating a vibrant, diverse community.”

Details of the 100th season celebration, which will span from summer 2018 to spring 2019, will be unveiled early in 2018. The first performance of the group that became the Des Moines Community Playhouse took place on Nov. 24, 1919. The Playhouse’s centennial celebration will culminate in November 2019, just prior to Viars’ retirement.

Peter Mraz and Bill Melamed of Arts Consulting Group assisted the Des Moines Community Playhouse and its search committee in the recruitment of David Kilpatrick as executive director.

About Us

Founded in 1919, the Des Moines Community Playhouse will celebrate its 100th season starting summer 2018. Today, the Playhouse is one of America’s oldest and largest continuously operating community theatres. The Playhouse mission is to collaborate with volunteers to create and deliver extraordinary theatre and education programs for communities in Central Iowa through high-quality entertainment with special emphasis on issues of social significance; programs that allow for the development of individual self-expression and self-esteem; and programs that identify and encourage individuals to pursue professional theatre development.

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