A key executive at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco will leave the company this spring.
Ellen Richard came to ACT as Executive Director in 2009, fresh from a career running theater companies in New York City, winning Tony Awards along the way.
Richard arrived at the Bay Area’s largest repertory company in the midst of the recession, and is credited with leading the $34 million campaign to acquire and renovate the dilapidated Strand Theater in the city’s mid-Market district.
The Strand is scheduled to open in May as an auxiliary venue to the company’s flagship 1,000-seat Geary Theater. The Strand will house two smaller theaters, along with an event space and cafe, providing ACT and other companies an outlet for more intimate and experimental plays.
“She was a very smart manager," said ACT’s artistic director Carey Perloff about Richard's departure, "and very tough and savvy."
At press time, Richard was unavailable for comment, but in a statement, she wrote, "I am very proud of what American Conservatory Theater has accomplished during my five-year tenure. I will always be grateful for the honor of helping lead this organization through an exciting period of growth and financial success.”
Asked about her replacement, Perloff remained open-ended. “At every moment in an organization," said the longtime Artistic Director, "a different skill set is needed.”
The skill set that ACT currently needs is real-estate savvy. The theater company is in the process of looking for a new home for its offices and MFA program, housed on Grant Ave. near Union Square. A few years ago, the company lost 12,000 square feet at that location, while paying 50% more in rent.