The founder of the Festival of Independent Theatres, David Fisher, now has a new job as executive director of the Turtle Creek Chorale. He starts August 15, just a few days after presenting the city's arts budget to the City Manager. Fisher most recently has been Assistant Director of the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, as well as serving as the Interim General Manager of WRR Classical 101.1 FM.
At TCC, a 225-member all-male chorus that presents a four-show annual season at the Meyerson, Fisher will be in charge of day-to-day operations, fundraising, budgeting, administration, marketing, ticketing and other general logistics. He'll also work with the organization's board in a search for a new artistic director, following the resignation of Jonathan Palant on July 18. Fisher replaces Stephan Tosha, who leaves at the end of July to take a position with Morgan Stanley financial services.
Fisher, who says he's been in the arts world since joining the school band at age 8 (he played the trumpet), has watched Dallas' arts organizations adapt over the past few years of big budget cuts by the city. He says most groups are "stabilizing" in a still-tough economy. "There's still some recovery to be done," says Fisher. "The days of 'if you build it, they will come' have passed."
To keep theaters thriving, Fisher says, patrons should be more vocal about why they do or don't like the work being staged. "The worst thing a patron can do is just go away without telling the organization why they've gone away. People need to make sure they communicate with arts groups that they attend so that the groups can be more responsive. We know that people are not buying season tickets like they used to. So if you're not, theaters should know how you do want to buy tickets."
Fisher says he believes buying options through Groupon, Facebook and last-minute ticket rushes at the box office are good strategies for both patrons and theaters.
The Festival of Independent Theatres, currently running at the Bath House Cultural Center through August 6, was Fisher's idea 13 years ago. He also directed productions for several theater companies and wants to get back to that again (he couldn't while he worked for the city since it's a conflict of interest). At FIT this past weekend as a patron, Fisher saw sold-out houses for shows and waiting lists for tickets. "I'm so proud that it continues to be such a strong festival," says Fisher. "That bodes well for the theater community."
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And what does he predict for the future of TCC? "It's such a fascinating organization with such a rich history," says Fisher. "And there are challenges there, too. Gay organizations all over the country are having to reinvent themselves in the 21st century. I feel like I'm getting to steward this amazingly rich new ship. I'm excited and grateful to be able to do that."
Here's the release from TCC:
July 20, 2011 - Dallas, Texas - The 225-member Turtle Creek Chorale (TCC) and its Board of Directors are pleased to announce the hiring of Mr. David Fisher as Executive Director effective August 15, 2011. The Executive Director of the TCC manages the TCC staff and the day-to-day operations for the 31-year-old organization, with a direct reporting line to the Board of Directors.
"We landed a big catch with the hiring of David Fisher. He is the right person for the Chorale, at the right time. David's stellar reputation, management experience and community relationships are exactly what is needed during these exciting times of transition," said Rev. Dawson B. Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the TCC.
Originally from Northern California, David Fisher came to Dallas in 1994 to work for the Dallas Children's Theater after earning a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Tulane University in New Orleans. In 1995, he joined the staff of the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, where he managed the Bath House Cultural Center and the Meyerson Symphony Center. While at the Bath House, he created the Festival of Independent Theatres and directed several acclaimed productions including Bucket Productions' Macbeth, Echo Theatre's Cloud Nine (for which he received a Leon Rabin "Best Director" award from the Dallas Theatre League) and Uptown Players' The Wild Party.
Fisher was part of the 2004 class of Leadership Dallas, earned an MBA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Dallas in 2005, and in 2006 was appointed Assistant Director of Cultural Affairs. As Assistant Director, he oversaw the operations of all of the cultural centers, the City's grant programs, and led the budgeting and administration functions of the department. Since 2010, he has carried dual responsibilities as Assistant Director and as the Interim General Manager of WRR Classical 101.1 FM.
"I could not be more thrilled - or more grateful - to be joining the Turtle Creek Chorale as its Executive Director. Since being a part of the Meyerson team that helped produce the first Sing for the Cure in 1999, I have followed the Turtles with admiration and appreciation. It is an amazing ensemble with an incredible history and, I believe, an incredible future.
"This is a pivotal time for the Turtles, most certainly. But with the dedication of the staff, the board, and most of all, the singing membership, the Turtles will thrive and continue to share their musical fabulousness, power and humanity with their adoring audiences," said Mr. Fisher.
David Fisher and his long-time partner Duncan live in Lake Highlands with their 7-year-old son, Bennett. In addition to being an arts administrator and a parent, he writes for The New York Times, makes soap and is an avid collector of Christmas music.
The Turtle Creek Chorale performs its four-program season at the Meyerson Symphony Center. The Chorus was founded in 1980 with a mission to entertain, educate unite and uplift our audiences and members through music that is distinguished for its innovation, diversity and artistic excellence.