October 8, 2021 – After a comprehensive national search, Boston-based search firm Arts Consulting Group (ACG) has helped to place Christopher Harrington as the new president and CEO of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, MN. He will begin his tenure on Nov. 1. Mr. Harrington will succeed interim president Chris Sagstetter, who will resume her previous role as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Mr. Harrington is the Ordway’s 12th president and CEO. He is also the organization’s first black leader. The announcement comes ahead of the Ordway’s reopening later this month after being closed for 18 months due to the pandemic.
“Chris is a trusted arts advocate and we’re thrilled to welcome him to the Ordway family and the Twin Cities,” said board chair Brad Wood. “Many events of the past year and a half have only underscored the significance of the arts in our lives. He is passionate about community and bringing people together around the performing arts. I can’t imagine a better person to lead the Ordway as we reopen.”
Mr. Harrington has held several positions at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, where he has worked since 2012. Most recently, he served as senior director of jazz and @The Max, a rotating, multi-year exhibition that brings visual art created by Detroit-area artists to patrons of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Harrington was responsible for marketing and programming local, national and international talent, ensuring a sustainable business model to attract and retain new audiences. He also increased the symphony’s presentations sevenfold, grew ticket revenue by more than 300 percent, and led the rebranding and launch of its venue The Cube. Prior to his time with the symphony, he served as marketing manager at Detroit Jazz Festival.
Passionate about connecting people through the arts, Mr. Harrington has a successful track record in audience development, revenue generation strategy, leadership, and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion priorities. He currently serves on the board of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals and is a mentor in Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business corporate mentor program. He has served as a grant review panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, on the executive team for Detroit Young Professionals and as a panelist at numerous national conferences. Mr. Harrington holds a bachelor of music degree and an MBA from Wayne State University. He has also completed the League of American Orchestra’s emerging leadership program and the executive program in arts and culture strategy from the University of Pennsylvania and National Arts Strategies.
A Vibrant Arts Community
“The Ordway is one of the nation’s leading performing arts centers and boasts diverse programming, a world-class venue, and a dedicated community of arts supporters,” said Mr. Harrington. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the talented Ordway team and serve as the organization’s next president and CEO. I look forward to collaborating with the board, staff, and Arts Partnership to build on the Ordway’s rich legacy and immerse myself in the vibrant arts community here.” (The Arts Partnership is a non-profit organization composed of the four organizations that perform regularly at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts – Minnesota Opera, the Ordway, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Schubert Club.)
“Congratulations to the board, staff, and Arts Partners of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on the appointment of Christopher Harrington as the new president and CEO,” said ACG president Bruce D. Thibodeau. “Chris is passionate about providing opportunities for the community to engage in the performing arts. His experience will serve the Ordway well as it re-opens and welcomes the community back into the music theatre and the concert hall.”
The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, founded in 1985, is the arts epicenter of Saint Paul, and one of the leading non-profit performing arts centers in the country. Founded on the belief that performing arts should be wide-ranging and accessible to all, the Ordway is home to a variety of performances that encompass Broadway musicals, concerts, dance and vocal artists. The Ordway serves thousands of children each year through its education programs and presents the annual Flint Hills Family Festival. The Ordway includes a 1,900-seat music theater, a state-of-the-art 1,100-seat concert hall and spacious lobbies.
Arts and Culture Recruiters
Arts Consulting Group provides interim management, executive search, revenue enhancement consulting, facilities and program planning, and organizational development services for the arts and culture industry. The firm has identified senior-level leaders for the Long Beach Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Chicago Opera, Stockton Symphony Association and Portland Baroque Orchestra, among others. The firm has offices in Boston; Calgary; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Halifax; Los Angeles; Nashville, TN; New York; Portland, OR; San Francisco; Tampa, FL; Toronto; and Washington, D.C.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media