After leading the Utah Shakespeare Festival for five years, Executive Producer Frank Mack has announced he will leave the Tony Award-winning theatre company at the end of this season to pursue new opportunities.
“I love everything about the Festival,” said Mack. “The past five years have been incredible. The Festival is an extraordinary organization, and it has been a privilege to serve in this role. I now look forward to new opportunities that I hope will be as exciting and satisfying as working at the Festival.”
During his five-year tenure, the Festival’s budget grew from $6.5 million in 2018 to approximately $9.5 million in 2022. The organization had four consecutive years of operating surpluses from 2018 to 2021 and contributed income increased 188 percent from 2017 to 2021. This enabled the Festival to restore its reserves and improve equipment and facilities while advancing equity and diversity.
“We appreciate Frank’s leadership and dedication to the Festival,” said Southern Utah University President Mindy Benson. “He’s been a passionate advocate for the arts, and we wish him well on his next creative endeavor.”
Other professional highlights include forming a strategic partnership with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, increasing compensation for full-time and seasonal employees, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Festival, and introducing a statewide tour to Utah high schools of the play Every Brilliant Thing, a show intended to help prevent youth suicide.
“Frank Mack has made significant contributions to the Festival since arriving in 2017,” said Utah Shakespeare Festival Board of Governors Chair Bryan Watabe. “His work in helping stabilize and grow the Festival’s financial picture and raising our profile with his leadership in equity, diversity, inclusion, and access was outstanding. We thank Frank for his dedication to the organization and extend well wishes to him on his next chapter.”
Mack oversaw the problematic year when the 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 epidemic, but he also shepherded the Festival’s reopening in 2021 with a full successful season. During his tenure, he has been committed to equity, diversity, inclusion, and access, working on expanding the Festival’s pool of actors, artists, technicians, staff, and board members. As part of that commitment, he led a partnership with West Valley City, where the Festival produced the world premiere of Gold Mountain, a musical about Chinese workers on the transcontinental railroad. He also worked closely with the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah to include members of the tribe’s youth music and dance ensemble in The Greenshow.
In 2021, the Festival joined the League of Resident Theatres, a prestigious group of top professional theatres nationally. It also rejoined Theatre Communications Group, the national service organization for professional theatres
“I will miss the excitement and joy of the Festival, the wonderful company, staff, board and generous donors—all of whom, taken together, make great theatrical art in southern Utah possible,” said Mack. “At the same time, I am enthused by the prospect of new creative opportunities.”
Before his work at the Festival, Mack served as an associate professor of arts administration at the University of Connecticut. Mack has also worked as managing director at the California Shakespeare Theatre in Berkeley, California; Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York; and Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Mack has served as a management consultant at Center Stage in Baltimore, Maryland; the African Continuum Theatre Company in Washington, DC; the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia; and many others. The Festival and Southern Utah University are making plans for an interim executive producer and will follow that up with a nationwide search to fill the position.
Story and photos courtesy of the Utah Shakespeare Festival