On July 14, Wiley Hausam stepped in as the new executive director of the Performing Arts Center. Previously, he was the executive director of the Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU, as well as an associate producer and member of the senior administrative staff of the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival. I caught up with him for a quick Q&A, and was most surprised by how much he values the opinion of the community. (That means you.) Read on to find out how you can help.
Q: Do you live in Westchester?
A: I live in Riverdale.
Q: So what do you think of the county so far?
A: It’s beautiful. I lived in Manhattan for twenty-six years and never owned a car until a week ago. Driving around and getting to know the area has been one of the best parts.
Q: What made you interested in the Performing Arts Center?
A: It’s a theater with a really distinguished history. It’s a big complex with four theaters, so it’s step-up for me in terms of scale and breadth of programming.
Q: What do you think is going to be the biggest difference between the Performing Arts Center and the Skirball Center?
A: I don’t know yet. It could be the community, just who lives here and what their tastes are. The community has just as high a standard as the city, but it might be different.
Q: Going in, do you think the Center’s strengths and weaknesses are?
A: I’m still figuring it out. One of the biggest strengths though is the staff. The board, the college, the staff, they’re all very supportive.
Q: Your background is mostly in theater. Is that something you’re going to try and focus on at the Performing Arts Center?
A: If possible. In the recent history here, theater has been the weakest part of what’s been programmed. On the other hand, it’s also very expensive. So I need to figure out how to make it better without breaking the bank.
Q: What is your biggest goal for the Center?
A: I’d like to engage larger portions of the communities around the theater. A lot of people might not necessarily be served by what we do at the Performing Arts Center. I’d like to hear from people—both people who have been loyal to theater and people who have never come here before—and have them tell me what they think.
He means, it, too. In fact, he told me to give out his e-mail address in this column so you can give him your $0.02. Do you think we need more indie rock concerts? More original theater? More author events? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. (You can leave them in the comments, too, because I’m curious.)