Purchase College has named Brian McCurdy the new director of The Performing Arts Center. He will assume the post this fall. Mr. McCurdy had been the executive director of the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, CA, until his appointment to Purchase.
“I am pleased to welcome Brian McCurdy to Purchase and The Performing Arts Center, one of the premiere cultural art centers in Westchester and the New York area,” said Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz. “Brian has extensive experience as artistic director and manager of performing arts centers, including six years at the Mondavi Center at the University of California, Davis. I look forward to working with him as we continue a tradition of bringing in the finest performing artists and we create additional opportunities for interaction of the Center with the curriculum of our students.”
“I am excited by the opportunity to build on the past success of the presenting program at The Performing Arts Center and to work collaboratively with the Purchase College faculty, staff and students to maximize the benefits of this world-class performing arts center,” said Mr. McCurdy.
As Director of The Performing Arts Center, Mr. McCurdy will be responsible for the programming, operation and financial performance of The Center. He will report to Provost Elizabeth Langland and work closely with the deans and faculty of the School of the Arts and others to develop collaborative and outreach programs and activities that serve the campus. He will also work with the board of The Performing Arts Center Foundation.
Mr. McCurdy has had over 25 years experience in performing arts management. Prior to joining the Gallo Center, he was Assistant Vice Chancellor University Cultural Programs/Director Mondavi Center at the University of California, Davis. As the first Director of the Mondavi Center, he served as chair of the fundraising team that successfully raised over $32 million for the capital project. During his six-year tenure, he increased the budget from slightly less then $2 million to over $7.5 million, increased subscriptions from 2,000 to over 11,000, and tripled the Center’s earned income.
In addition, he coordinated the use of the Mondavi Center between the academic departments of Music and Theatre & Dance, as well as community groups, commercial renters, conferences and business groups. He created an extensive master class program with the performing arts departments and developed several projects jointly with the academic departments.
Under his leadership, the Mondavi Center attracted over 35,000 K-12 students annually to its Matinee Series, as well as the extensive master class program. Mr. McCurdy also led the Mondavi Center’s commitment to commissioning and presenting contemporary work in music, theatre and dance.
He has held various management positions with several Canadian performing arts organizations, including President of NPS Management, Executive Director of Opera Hamilton in Ontario, General Manager of Thunder Bay Community Auditorium in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and General Manager of Performing Arts Centre, University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta. He was also Chief Operating Officer of The Bushnell in Hartford, CT.
He received his bachelor’s degree in music from McGill University in Montreal, and his master’s degree in arts administration from Northwestern University. He has also studied arts administration at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Banff, Alberta, and studied at the Leadership Institute at the University of California at Berkeley.
Each year almost 200,000 people attend more than 650 performances, benefits and events held within the five theatres of the Purchase College Performing Arts Center. An important focus in its programming has been contrasting influences and traditions, and each series encompasses a wide variety of artists and repertoire. The Center’s own presentations include 16 series of classical music, theatre, dance, children’s programming, chamber music, jazz, choral works, organ music, multi-cultural arts, cabaret and folk and special events each season. In addition to the professional productions, The Center features student productions from the performing arts conservatories of the School of the Arts. The Center has also produced several of its own productions based on special artistic initiatives.
The Center’s Arts-in-Education program presents over 20 educational events for school children ages 5 –18 from area schools each season. These include in-school programs, performing arts workshops and special performances at The Performing Arts Center. Over 25 percent of participating students attend on scholarships. Master classes with artists featured in The Center’s professional series are presented to conservatory students on campus, creating unique opportunities for School of the Arts students to engage directly with leading practitioners in their respective fields.
This season, its 28th, saw performances by Itzhak Perlman, Lang Lang, the New York Philharmonic, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Nuevo Ballet Español, Chick Corea, the Jon Faddis Quartet, Barbara Cook, Michael Feinstein, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Mark Morris Dance Group, Miami City Ballet, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, L.A. Theatre Works, and The Actors Gang. In addition, the Suzanne and Norman Hascoe Lecture Series included conversations with filmmakers Robert Altman, Ken Burns, Jonathan Demme and Spike Lee, and Harlan Jacobson’s Talk Cinema included previews of foreign and independent films all season long.
The Performing Arts Center also features performances by students in the Purchase College Conservatories of Dance, Music and Theatre Arts & Film. This season featured the debut of the Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra, directed by Ray Vega, Nutcracker ’05 by the Purchase Dance Corps, William Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale by the Purchase Repertory Theatre, and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro by the Purchase Opera, among others.
The Performing Arts Center has become “the venue” for American premieres, as well as for dozens of artists and companies, which have presented exclusive New York area performances at Purchase. It also has a history of presenting artists of exceptional talent before they have reached prominence, and a reputation for encouraging experimental productions and avant-garde companies.
The Center has had a strong influence on the development of the arts in Westchester County over the past two decades. It provides an exceptional facility and professional expertise to local arts organizations from professional symphony orchestras to community dance schools. The versatility of The Center’s theatres and the convenience of its location to New York City have attracted the professional theatre, film and recording industries. In addition to numerous classical recordings, many Broadway shows have made use of The Center’s facilities including Annie Get Your Gun, The Wizard of Oz, The Lion King, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Tarzan.