Joshua Midgett. (Courtesy Photo | Perseverance Theatre)

Joshua Midgett. (Courtesy Photo | Perseverance Theatre)

Perseverance Theatre hires new managing director to right financial ship

• Joshua Midgett, 32, aims to secure theater’s future after financial troubles • Ahead of 40th season, Alaska’s professional theater reinvesting at the top

Perseverance Theatre announced Friday it has a new managing director, ahead of its 40th-anniversary season. Joshua Midgett will fill a long-vacant position in hopes of steering the theater out of a fiscal crisis that nearly forced its closure.

Midgett will assume duties in mid-October. He’ll lead the theater’s business operations as co-head of the nonprofit alongside Artistic Director Art Rotch, who will transition from his role as executive artistic director.

The 32-year-old has a background in theater administration and economics. He comes to Juneau from a stint as the general manager of the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, a position he’s held since 2015.

In a word, Midgett called it “exciting” to helm Perseverance in a Friday phone interview with the Empire. He’s relishing the challenge ahead.

“It’s going to take community support. We’re going to have to dig deep into the roots of Juneau,” Midgett said.

Six-figure debt had caught up with Perseverance this summer, clouding its future and forcing it to furlough employees in June to keep operations going. A $650,000 donation helped save the theater at the end of June and spurred an ongoing fundraising effort.

Employees have since been put back to work and management has designed a path forward. The postponing of the upcoming fall season, an increase in ticket prices and grassroots “Persevere With Us!” fundraising challenge to individuals and businesses are part of that path.

Midgett’s hire is the latest organizational change at the theater. The managing director position had been eliminated in 2011 to save money, Rotch told the Empire Friday. Since then, Rotch had essentially been working two jobs: molding the on-stage product and dealing with new hires, administration and coordinating with the theater’s board of directors.

Having just one person running business and artistic operations isn’t typical of a theater Perseverance’s size, Rotch said. Most mid-size regional theaters employ both a managing director and an artistic director, though some small and large theaters do have one person overseeing the artistic and business sides of the operation, Rotch said.

Under the new management structure, Rotch will focus solely on the artistic product while Midgett will oversee the business side.

“I can’t imagine one person doing both of those jobs, as wonderful and as capable as Art is,” Midgett said in a prepared statement. “I’m looking forward to working with Art as a partner, so that both sides of that coin can get the attention they deserve.”

Midgett has childhood ties to Juneau. The U.S. Coast Guard stationed his father in Juneau when Midgett was in elementary school. The family stayed for five years. He called it a “homecoming” of sorts, to find his way back to Juneau professionally.

He holds a master’s degree in arts management and a certificate in international arts management from American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the $650,000 donation, the “Persevere With Us!” challenge has generated $45,000 in new contributions since its June 29 launch, according to development director Erika Stone. The deadline for individual donors is Sept. 30.

In addition to Midgett’s hire as managing director, the theater announced Friday the addition of Shelly Wright as a new costume shop manager. Cameron Thorpe, a veteran of the theater’s intern program, has taken a position as the theater’s new company manager.

Perseverance is also recruiting a technical director, assistant technical director, and bookkeeper.

Midgett said he’ll likely focus on a few different priorities: reaching out to the public and reinvigorating the theater’s relationship with its board of directors.

But, he added, “I think that the first thing you need to do is to make sure you have exciting art on the stage.”

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

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