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Executive Director Bob Taylor Announces Retirement

Taylor takes a bow after over two decades of senior leadership.


CLEVELAND, OH
Bob Taylor, Executive Director of Great Lakes Theater (GLT) and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival (LTSF) and Director of Finance for Idaho Shakespeare Festival (ISF), has announced his plan to retire next summer. His time with GLT and ISF will conclude in June of 2023, while he will continue through the end of the summer at LTSF to wrap up their 2023 season.

Great Lakes Theater has had a history of finding "the right person at the right time." Taylor was one of those exceptional individuals. He started at Great Lakes Theater as Development Manager in 2000, was quickly promoted to Director of Administration in 2001, and then named Executive Director in 2003. Before joining GLT in 2000, Taylor was a Business Manager with several for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. His education, previous experience, and skill set in finance and administration were pivotal to transforming and stabilizing the organization early in his time at GLT.

At the same time, his warmth and interpersonal skills set the tone for an office atmosphere of camaraderie, mutual respect, and fun. Taylor created an office culture where hard work is valued, curiosity is encouraged, and many employees find a long-term professional home. "Bob has been an extremely generous leader, always conscious of giving employees the opportunity to learn, grow, and excel," says Stephanie Reed, GLT's Director of Administration. "He has created a culture that centers on good humor, care of one another, and love for our work."

Taylor shepherded various significant undertakings to transform GLT and create lasting stability and growth. Taylor's early decision to bring finances in-house provided the ability to spot risks early and identify needs and opportunities that aided success. Diversifying the support available to the organization, he first created a working capital fund, then an endowment fund. Taylor was also integral in instituting a planned giving campaign through Great Lakes Theater's "Legacy Society" and establishing a risk capital fund that enabled GLT to expand its season from five to six shows with an eye to new genres and exploratory pieces. One of Taylor's most significant efforts moved Great Lakes Theater into a new era as he marshaled the board's $19.3M capital campaign to renovate the Hanna Theatre. This campaign would exceed its goal by ultimately earning $20.2M and providing Great Lakes Theater with its intimate and innovative theatre home within Playhouse Square.

"Bob has been instrumental to Great Lakes Theater's success over the past couple of decades," says Sam Hartwell, Chair of Great Lakes Theater's Board of Trustees. "His leadership, shrewd business insight, passion for theater, and enthusiasm for creating a viable, sustainable performing arts organization have had a profound impact that will last for many years. I cannot overstate the significance of his contributions. The board will greatly miss him, and we look forward to celebrating Bob's last season with Great Lakes Theater."

The recent COVID-19 pandemic marked another notable moment for Taylor. He successfully led all efforts for GLT, ISF, and LTSF to secure substantial support through the emergency arts funding provided by the government. This support and the already prudent financial practices he organized enabled all staff to stay employed full-time and created a considerable safety net as these three institutions readied themselves to produce live theater in the post-COVID landscape.

The three-city strategic alliance that connects Great Lakes Theater, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival was another extraordinary feat during his tenure. Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee and Taylor worked to realize this unique and prosperous partnership that first started between GLT and ISF as Fee continued his leadership role at both organizations, with LTSF joining in 2010. This collaboration establishes the ability to maximize return on organizational investments, increase production efficiencies, create long-term work opportunities for artists, and share best practices.

Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival came under Taylor's leadership in 2010 as he took on the role of Executive Director. The care and skill he employed at Great Lakes Theater would be paramount to the success LTSF saw during his time. The same financial and administrative acuity that put GLT on the road to prosperity guided LTSF to secure footing and produced tremendous growth. Taylor oversaw numerous capital upgrades to the theater, including constructing a permanent Box Office, a fully upgraded sound system, and improved seating throughout the theater at Sand Harbor. In addition to these laudable accomplishments, Taylor actively wears many hats at LTSF and is a dedicated leader by example. As Fee once stated, "Bob IS Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival!"

"Bob came into his leadership role with Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival around the time I became a board member, and it has been a wonderful experience to work with him over the years. His care, vision, and sharp attention to detail have led to the growth of this organization, which is nothing short of extraordinary." shared Patty Engels, Chair of Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival's Board of Directors. "Bob's legacy will be hard to rival, but we know he created an incredible infrastructure that will maintain and build upon the success he helped establish. I wish Bob all the best for his next chapter. We will miss him dearly."

Taylor's exceptional relationship-building skills have been vital to his many esteemed accomplishments. One fundamental partnership is that of Taylor and Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee. Their complementary skill sets, love of theater, incredible devotion to these organizations, friendship, and mutual respect for one another established a substantial base to build the tremendous prosperity they accomplished. The two talented leaders together reinvigorated these organizations through expertise, innovation, and utmost care.

"Working with Bob has been one of the great pleasures of my life in the theater." shares Charles Fee, GLT, ISF, and LTSF Producing Artistic Director. "From the moment we met, I knew we could form a successful working relationship built on trust and a shared artistic passion. Bob has all the skills of a top-notch Executive Director: business acumen, emotional intelligence, social grace, a sense of humor, mad cooking skills, and a deep understanding and love for the arts. In short, all the qualities of a great partner. While Bob may retire from Great Lakes Theater and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Lidia and I will continue our friendship with him for life!"

Staff and Board Members from both organizations have joined the succession committee to aid in the search and transition process. The committee has hired Management Consultants for the Arts to lead the nationwide search for Taylor's successor. Taylor will actively assist in the transition to ensure a successful and seamless transfer occurs.

Taylor's future holds myriad plans for his well-deserved retirement. "I look forward to travelling across the world, reading all the books that have piled up in my library, volunteering in my community, and attacking my gardening habit with more gusto."

Taylor reflects, "A wise person once advised, 'find the job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.' I have truly been blessed in that regard. It has been my joy and privilege to have worked alongside the talented and dedicated artists, staff, and Board members of the Great Lakes and Lake Tahoe companies. It is time for me to turn the reins over to the next generation, but these companies will remain an important part of my life."

Posted on: October 11, 2022

Category: Press Releases

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