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Broad Stage names new leader who wants to bring in 'more adventurous work'

Broad Stage names new leader who wants to bring in 'more adventurous work'
The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. (Benny Chan Fotoworks)

The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica has hired Wiley Hausam, the leader of a performing arts program affiliated with Stanford University, as artistic and executive director.

Hausam, 57, has been executive director of Stanford Live and the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford for the past four years. He previously held executive roles at the Skirball Center at New York University and the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College in upstate New York.

At the Broad Stage, Hausam said his goal will include stretching the theater’s repertoire into less conventional areas. The theater, which operates in partnership with Santa Monica College, typically presents theater, classical music, dance, jazz and family programming on a 499-seat main stage and separate 99-seat space. 

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“The size of the theater is perfect for more adventurous work,” Hausam said. “My sense is that this is a community willing to take artistic risks and do stuff that’s more interesting.”

At Stanford Live, Hausam has programmed many artists who also have performed at the Broad Stage, including actress Anna Deavere Smith, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.

Both organizations are presenting companies, which means they focus on importing artists and productions rather than building productions from scratch.

“We do want to expand our offerings in dance and theater,” said Richard Kendall, chairman of the Broad Stage’s board.

But Kendall said a key reason Hausam was hired was his experience managing arts organizations.

Hausam, who begins in October, takes charge of a company that has experienced financial chop in recent seasons. The Broad Stage swung to its first budgetary deficit in four years during the 2013-14 season, the most recent period for which financial records are publicly available.

For the fiscal year ending in 2014, the company posted a loss of about $1.7 million, on spending of $6.5 million.

In addition, revenue generated from the box office has declined for the three most recent years. Receipts fell from a high of $3.1 million in 2012 to $2.4 million last year, a more than 20% decline. This drop came even as the Broad increased the number of performances, from 176 performances in 2012 to 201 last year.

Donations also fell in 2014, down nearly 50% from the year before to just over $2 million. In 2008, Eli Broad announced a gift of$10 million to the company for its endowment. The final installment of $2 million was made during the fiscal year ending 2013, according to a spokeswoman for the Broad Foundation.

Kendall attributed 2014's loss to the increase in the number of performances, saying the organization didn’t step up fundraising to cover added costs.

Financial documents for the 2015 fiscal year, which just ended, aren't publicly available yet, but Kendall said he expects the Broad Stage will be back in the black because fundraising doubled from 2014 to approximately $4 million.

He also said the Broad Stage is “exploring a significant endowment campaign” to augment the $10 million gift from 2008, but he declined to elaborate (Austin Beutner, the publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times, also sits on the company's board of directors).

The Broad Stage has operated without a fully dedicated leader after founding director Dale Franzen, who played a key role in opening the Westside company in 2008, abruptly stepped down last September.

The Broad Stage, which opened in 2008, competes for Westside audiences from two other organizations — the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, which opened its doors in 2013, and the relaunched Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.

The Wallis has also been beefing up its seasonal roster. A spokesman for the Beverly Hills company said it produced 38 more performances in its most recent season than the year before, for 236 performances in 2014-15.

Unlike the Wallis, a private organization, the Broad Stage exists in partnership with Santa Monica College. The community college owns the facilities at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, where the Broad Stage resides. The separate nonprofit organization administers the actual presentation of performances.

Hausam's appointment comes at a time of expansion for the Broad Stage. A $12.3-million new wing has already broken ground and is expected to be completed in 2016. The new structure, which will include a 165-seat performance space and other facilities, is being funded largely by a public bond issue.

After Franzen's departure in September, Mitchell Heskel served as interim director of the Broad Stage. He was recently named dean of education enterprise at Santa Monica College.

The new season, which was already in place before Hausam was hired, will kick off with operatic soprano Angela Gheorghiu, followed by the Calder Quartet as well as a return of South Africa's Isango Ensemble with its production of “Carmen.”

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT 

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