By Steve Seifert
Executive Director, Newman Center for the Performing Arts
Hi, I’m Steve and I’m a recovering lawyer.
I practiced commercial bankruptcy law for 14 years, and during that time my closest connection to the performing arts, other than as an avid audience member, was six years of service on the Board of Directors of Opera Colorado, three of those as Chairman. The bankruptcy practice’s charms having waned, however, I took a yearlong sabbatical, not knowing what I might do next.
Toward the end of the sabbatical, friends still on the Board of the Opera asked me to take on the new position of Executive Director while they searched for a permanent solution. What seemed a well-ordered plan, however, quickly dissolved into emergency management as we all learned that the company’s co-founder and music director had terminal cancer.
Making a long, and very operatic, story short, after her death and the artistic director’s resignation, the Board looked at me and said, “you’re staying, right?” That I did, for just over four years. The highlight of my time with the Opera was our millennial season, which included performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio (not produced in Colorado for about 50 years) and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (never before fully staged by a Colorado company) in rep.
Thereafter, as a consultant for the City of Denver, I worked on the financial and political plan to gain mayoral, council and voter approval for the renovation of Denver’s 100 year old Auditorium Theatre, now the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
Still trying to find alternatives to returning to the practice of law, I accepted the position as first Executive Director of the University of Denver’s new Newman Center for the Performing Arts. As part of taking on that assignment I proposed that the University become a presenter and Newman Center Presents was born in the 2003-04 season. My baptism to the world of presenting happened at the WAA Conference in Phoenix in 2002. The warm and collegial welcome provided by many great colleagues at WAA helped this washed-up lawyer find a new home.
- Posted 4/30/2015