After a nationwide search and a very large net cast for applicants, the hunt for an executive director for the Civic Arts Center has come to an end. Organizers say they found the ideal candidate right in the center’s backyard.
“After a thorough and lengthy search process I am pleased to announce that Mr. Robert Hutchens, a native of Maryville, has accepted the position of executive director for the Civic Arts Center,” Maryville College President Gerald Gibson said in a memo to campus Monday morning.
Based upon the Civic Arts Center’s innovative public-private partnership between the cities of Maryville and Alcoa, state and federal governments, and Maryville College, a search committee including both city representatives and college faculty and staff was formed. Job descriptions and calls for applicants were placed in the spring of 2008 with the interview process occurring throughout this summer. Also included in the interview rounds were members from the general community who have been engaged with the Civic Arts Center project from its earliest developments.
The candidate pool was narrowed to four and those individuals were brought to Maryville for daylong interviews with city, college and community representatives. Robert Hutchens stood out as the candidate who had the vision, experience and drive to lead the difficult job of shaping and developing a signature Civic Arts Center to benefit the entire region, Gibson said.
Prior to his upcoming role with the CAC, Hutchens served as an assistant director in Maryville College’s Center for International Education. He specialized in teaching and recruiting international students for programs in English Language Learning. Related to his responsibilities with international education, Hutchens has led presentations and workshops across the globe, including locations as varied as New York, Argentina and Thailand. In addition to English, he speaks both Spanish and Thai, but it was not his international experience that won him the job.
“One of the things that stood out about Mr. Hutchens was his long connection to Maryville, Alcoa and the College, and his strong sense of this community,” said Greg McClain, city manager of Maryville and search committee member. “I’m confident in his ability to guide the center so that it provides opportunities for our local artists and performers to shine.”
In addition to his work with International Education at Maryville College, Hutchens has a long-standing relationship with Maryville College theatre—he began acting in the mid-60s and has been performing or directing throughout every decade since. He is a lifelong participant in arts events and programs at MC.
Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson, another member of the search committee, noted Hutchens’ passion for the arts. “The director of the center must be one who has an innate love of the arts as well as an understanding of the logistics and basic business needs of such a facility. Hutchens was the candidate that best combined these talents.”
Prior to his work at the college, Hutchens served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, as an adjunct instructor at the University of Tennessee and as a professional actor.
Hutchens’ arts administration experience stems from his service with a number of area theatres. A successful stint as the director of the Bijou Children’s Theatre and School found him hiring and supervising a repertory company of actors and teachers. While at the Bijou he directed plays, hired directors, wrote scripts, prepared study guides and collaborated with the Knox County Department of Education and teachers to plan four-play seasons. At the end of his Bijou tenure, both school enrollment and children’s theatre audiences had increased and both were profitable.
Other theatre management includes Hutchens’ work as the director of public relations and promotion of University of Tennessee Theatres. Highlights of his time as Director include providing playbill text to the Kennedy Center for the productions of Rip Van Winkle and the Tony Award-Winning Medea, and providing images to Time Magazine. Hutchens also served as host for “Backstage,” a 30-minute arts program, interviewing local and visiting artists on WUOT. His responsibilities also included meeting with the Board of Directors of UT Theatres and the Knoxville Arts Council, as well as planning and carrying out sizable fundraisers and events. At the end of his time with UT, Hutchens had almost doubled the subscription audience and substantially grown the student subscriptions. These benchmarks became the largest subscription base to be boasted by the UT Theatres.
Hutchens also served as the company manager for Hunter Hills Theatre in Gatlinburg, Tenn., where he supervised the work of a 20-35 person staff, including the oversight of box office management and accounting.
Hutchens began his undergraduate career at Maryville College but later transferred to pursue a theatre major at the University of Tennessee. At the time theatre was not a major offered at Maryville College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre from the University of Tennessee, has conducted graduate studies in Theatre at UT and received a master’s degree in foreign language education from the university.
Although currently employed with the college, Hutchens will be spending the month of September transitioning from his current role in the Center for International Education to begin his responsibilities as executive director of the Civic Arts Center on Oct. 1. Hutchens and the Civic Arts Center will be located within the college’s Division of Advancement and Community Relations.
As Hutchens steps into his new role as executive director, another Civic Arts Center organization will be taking shape. As defined by the bond agreement established to finance the Civic Arts Center, a 30-person advisory board will be established. The composition is designated to include eight representatives of Maryville City, four representatives of Alcoa, 10 representatives of Maryville College, and eight jointly appointed members. From this group, a smaller executive committee will serve as the most direct governing body of the center and provide additional guidance and supervision to the executive director.
To date, the fundraising effort for the $47.3 million has reached $40 million with the remaining funds being privately raised. Construction of the Center is scheduled for completion late 2009 with a grand opening to take place in early 2010.
To learn more about the Civic Arts Center and to get involved in the fundraising effort, call Holly Ludlow, Maryville College’s interim vice president for advancement and community relations at 865.273.8884 or via the web at email@example.com.