The Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric has named as its new executive director Vickie Hubbard, 58, a native of Pennsylvania's Dauphin County with 25 years of experience in the live entertainment business.
The executive director slot has been vacant since February 2015. Hubbard, who assumes the role on Jan. 3, will aim to maximize the number of dates the historic venue hosts performances and events, and collaborate with local organizations on cost-effective programming and building audience.
During interviews, Hubbard's energy and enthusiasm — along with the job she did as executive director of the Pullo Center, a 1,016-seat theater in York, Pa. — impressed the board of directors, said chairman Cleaveland Miller. Her ability to fundraise was also an asset, he said.
"It seemed like she had worn a lot of hats in that job, and frankly, to come to the Lyric and be the executive director, you need to wear a lot of hats," Miller said.
She and Miller agree that one of her first initiatives is to identify local organizations the 2,564-seat Lyric can collaborate with to draw more people, especially children, to the venue and for them to become more involved in the arts.
"You have to build relationships, and I don't only mean with your staff, your board, agents, promoters, but with the community," Hubbard said inside a conference room at the theater on Tuesday. "You have to be able to get out there and embrace everyone who could be a part of your success and a part of your building's success."
The Lyric aims "to form alliances with other organizations so we make the best use of the limited dollars available," Miller said. He hopes the Lyric will further work in collaboration with the Peabody Institute and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, among others.
Concrete initiatives for the Lyric under Hubbard's leadership will take time to develop, Miller said. The hope is to get Hubbard settled into the role in January, and then figure out a "strategic" five-year plan for the venue.
"I think in that time, we'll really be able to identify the priorities and more importantly, what we're going to do from a tactical standpoint in order to achieve that," Miller said.
Kathleen Frankford, president of the Pennsylvania tourism organization Discover Lancaster, met Hubbard in the early 1990s, when the two worked at the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Co. She believes Hubbard will acclimate quickly to her new environment because of her temperament and ability to quickly assess situations.
"She's not the type of person who has the ego where she needs to come in and put her thumbprint on everything, and just make change for the sake of change," Frankford said. "She does a really good job of making decisions to optimize resources."
The Lyric is known for hosting a wide range of events, from classical musicians and comedians to theater productions, opera and dance. The venue also hosts pop music concerts, and Hubbard plans to host more in the future.
The hope, she said, is to minimize dates where the Lyric is not in use. The Lyric's online schedule listed five days of public programming in October, four in November and six in December.
"I think we need to reach everyone, have something for everyone," Hubbard said. "Not only the performing and fine arts, but also fill our schedule with commercial shows and rentals — comedy, family, pop music. We want to have very, very few dark nights."
Hubbard currently lives in Lancaster, Pa., but has recently been coming down to the Lyric once a week to become more familiar with staff and the area. She will soon move to Mid-Town Belvedere, where the wife and mother of three will live within walking distance of the Lyric.
Hubbard is the Lyric's fifth executive director in the 122-year history of the theater. The position had been vacant since longtime administrator Sandy Richmond left to become general manager of Detroit's Fox Theatre.
Miller called the search for a replacement "unusually long." The Lyric's staff was able to focus on daily operations during the gap-period, but it also hampered their ability to consider significant changes or initiatives, Miller said.
After a couple of candidates fell through "for one reason or another," Miller said, the board met Hubbard about a month ago.