August 18, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 20

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    New Court director will work to raise theater’s profile nationally

    By Jennifer Carnig
    News Office

    Dawn Helsing

    After an eight-month national search, Dawn Helsing has been named the new Executive Director of Court Theatre. Her appointment begins Monday, Aug. 29.

    Helsing, 40, comes to the University from Baltimore, where she served as the director of development for CENTERSTAGE, the leading professional theater company in the state. In that position, Helsing directed the theater’s annual fund growth for four seasons and expanded it to $2.5 million. In addition, she helped launch a $5 million capital and endowment campaign.

    “Dawn brings a national profile and experience to Court Theatre,” said Charles Newell, Artistic Director for Court Theatre. “Every previous institution where she’s been has seen significant growth in resources for the arts. This is what Court needs most now.”

    Helsing and Newell will co-lead the theater, with Helsing managing the administrative and financial aspects that sustain Court’s high and respected level of production.

    “I’ve heard about Court for years because it has a very fine reputation nationally, as does Charlie Newell,” Helsing said. “But when I saw a production, I knew it was the place for me. I was really bowled over by the high quality of every aspect of the work—it is phenomenal. So the opportunity to provide more resources for more wonderful work to happen is really exciting.”

    Helsing also has served as associate managing director for Yale Repertory Theatre, where she earned her M.F.A. In addition, she has served as managing director of Ensemble Company for the Performing Arts in New Haven, Conn., telemarketing manager for CENTERSTAGE, and communications and special events associate for Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Helsing earned her B.A. in English from Grinnell College.

    “There is a natural synergy that happens between arts institutions and universities as both delve into the big ideas that fuel our minds, the questions that explore the core of what it means to be human,” she said. “It’s an honor to be a part of such a prestigious university and to delve deeper into how Court and the University can benefit each other.”

    As Executive Director, Helsing said she will work to raise Court’s profile nationally as a center for classic theater, as well as expand its reputation locally both within the University community and Hyde Park and the city as a whole. To more fully engage with all of the different aspects of the community, Helsing said she hopes to expand the Board of Directors so it is more fully representative of the community at large.

    “To be a part of the vibrant University community and Chicago’s remarkably rich theater scene is a dream come true,” Helsing said.

    This fall, Court Theatre celebrates its 51st season with performances of Man of La Mancha, Mabou Mines Dollhouse, Fences, The Glass Menagerie, and Lettice and Lovage. For more information on Court, visit http://courttheatre.uchicago.edu.