Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre has just replaced its managing director, the veteran Seattle arts administrator Kevin Hughes, with his second-in-command, Carlo Scandiuzzi, whose title will be executive director. George Nunes is promoted to general manager.
Hughes was named to the top administrative post only last December, following a period of limbo at ACT after the shift of longtime managing director Susan Trapnell to a new post in supervising an endowment drive. Hughes had joined the ACT board, and as the search for a new managing director became bogged down, he offered to be a candidate himself. He has a long career in Seattle arts, including work as a lobbyist for organizations and arts funding. According to one well-placed source, Hughes, who is out of town on vacation, made the decision to step down.
Hughes will continue consulting with ACT (and possibly other groups) in exploring "key theatrical and governmental partnerships." As all three major theaters in Seattle face financial difficulties, there have been informal talks about ways to merge some parts of their operations (such as box office and marketing) in order to save money. Intiman Theatre is said to have dropped out of such talks, while Seattle Repertory Theatre and ACT are still having exploratory conversations. Hughes is likely to be a key player in such conversations, notoriously difficult to bring to issue.
Scandiuzzi joined ACT last year as executive director of new works, reaching out to partners who might do works at ACT's four-stage complex. He is an old friend of Kurt Beattie, ACT's artistic director, and has worked as a film producter, a music promoter, and actor. He is married into the prominent Merrill family and is a patron of the arts. He's fully on board with ACT's new emphasis on doing performances from many disciplines, not just theater. Nunes has worked in ballet administration as well as being most recently associate director for individual support at ACT. His new job will be to oversee day-to-day business operations at ACT.
Scandiuzzi's promotion is regarded as an excellent match for ACT, but the sudden departure of Hughes would seem to indicate continuing strategic and board uncertainties at the theater. ACT went into a financial tailspin in 2003, necessitating the return of Trapnell to the helm (she had left earlier to head the Seattle Arts Commission and then to be managing director of the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis). The company was saved, but it is still digging out from debt.