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Centerstage Hires Director

Leaderless for two years, performing arts center hires executive director; Richmond Symphony lures away newspaper executive.



Let the "serious fun" begin. CenterStage has hired an executive director.

According to sources who work at the performing arts center, Richard M. Parison Jr., an experienced theatrical producer currently with the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass., has been offered the position. The hiring comes more than a year after CenterStage's grand opening, and two years after its previous executive director resigned.

An announcement about Parison's hiring is slated for Wednesday afternoon, following final approval from CenterStage president L. Robert Mooney and the art center's board of directors.

Past critics of CenterStage, a downtown arts facility partially built and subsidized by city tax dollars, have long called for the hiring of an experienced arts administrator to oversee the creative direction of the venue.

"I wish him well," says Joel Katz, the former director of the Carpenter Center who ran afoul of arts center planners in 2005. "I hope they let him do his job." Katz had a word of advice for the new director: "Amaze us."

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Parison has spent the last two years as the producing director at Barrington Stage Company, which the Boston Globe has called, "the pre-eminent place in Massachusetts for the production of musicals." Before that, he held producing positions at the Prince Music Theater and the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia. When contacted at his home, Parison said he had no comment "at this time."

In other CenterStage news, Frazier Millner has been hired as the Director of Advancement and Patron Communications for the art center's anchor tenant, the Richmond Symphony.

Millner was previously the vice president of audience and content development at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In that position, Millner oversaw (among others) the daily newspaper's executive editor, Glenn Proctor.

She has also served on the symphony's board of directors for the past five years. In a press release, Millner says that the new position "offers the opportunity to put my experience to work for an organization I believe has tremendous potential to grow and flourish. … The time is right for me to be part of that momentum and to pursue my long-range plan for re-entering the arts and cultural community." Before her job at the Times-Dispatch, Millner had worked for the Arts Council of Richmond (now Cultureworks) and the Cultural Center at Glen Allen,

"The experience that Frazier brings to the job is really important," says David Fisk, the symphony's executive director. "We've been looking at how we can build on the success of our first season at CenterStage and she has the experience and the skills to help us to do that."



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