Longtime head of Modell-Lyric heads to Detroit

Tim Smith
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Modell-Lyric Performing Arts Center is in need of a new general manager. National search underway.

The Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric is on the hunt for a new administrator. Longtime president and executive director Sandy Richmond stepped down earlier ths year to become general manager of another historic venue, the 5,200-seat Fox Theatre in Detroit, originally built as a movie palace built in 1928. He started Feb. 1.

"This was an opportunity I don't think he could pass up," said Ed Brody, emeritus chairman of the Modell-Lyric's board of directors. "The staff has been wonderful doing extra duty."

Brody is heading up a search committee that includes University of Baltimore president and former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke.

"We hired a firm to do a national search for the next general manager," Brody said. "It's going to take a period of time, no question about that."

Richmond did not return several phone calls asking for comment.

Richmond, who worked as an usher at the Modell-Lyric in the 1980s and became president in 1998, guided the 120-year-old, 2,500-seat theater through an extensive, $14-million expansion and renovation that included long-needed modernization of backstage facilities.

During his tenure the facility changed its name from Lyric Opera house in 2010 to the Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric after a $3.5 million gift from Art Modell, former owner of the Baltimore Ravens.

The Modell-Lyric presents a broad range of entertainment each season, including pop, rock and country artists; Bob Dylan will give a concert there in April. The now-controversial comedian Bill Cosby is on next month's calendar.

Touring productions of musicals are typically part of the lineup, along with visits by ballet companies; the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is scheduled to return in May. For the past few years, the center has presented an annual staging by Peabody Opera Theatre.

After the Baltimore Opera Company, which rented the theater for more than five decades, went bankrupt in 2008, Lyric Opera Baltimore was established at the Modell-Lyric in 2011 as a part of the venue's own operations. Although the new company was able to afford only one production this season, Richmond was upbeat when interviewed last month.

"The Modell Lyric has presented grand opera for over 100 years, and I see that continuing for the foreseeable future," he told the Sun. "We have outlined productions for the 2015-2016 season and beyond."

Brody, a major supporter of opera at the Modell-Lyric, said that future productions "will be dictated by the funds we are able to raise."

tim.smith@baltsun.com

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