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Arts & Culture

Western New York native to lead Shea's

Photo from The Old Globe Theatre

A western New York native will take over as the next leader of Shea's Performing Arts Center this fall. The Shea's Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Michael Murphy as president on Monday.

Murphy, a Gowanda native, is the managing director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California. He will replace longtime Shea's President Anthony Conte, who has decided to step down from the post.   

Murphy is a 1979 graduate of Gowanda Central High School. He has extensive theater background including managerial work at the Austin Lyric Opera, San Diego Opera and San Diego Repertory Theatre, as well as work at theaters in New York.  

“Returning to Western New York and joining the extraordinary arts and culture community that makes Buffalo such a great place to live is a wonderful opportunity for me” said Murphy. “The arts are tightly woven into the fabric of the region’s history and I’m honored and thrilled to be selected to work with the dedicated and talented Trustees, staff, and volunteers at Shea’s.  With the support of thousands of hard-working volunteers and generous philanthropists, the citizens of Buffalo have restored Shea’s Buffalo Theatre to be the shining beacon of Buffalo.  By working with the region’s amazing theatre organizations, schools, colleges, and universities, I look forward to building upon the solid foundation created by Tony Conte.”

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Anthony Conte, outgoing Shea's President, in our WBFO studio.

Conte has been leading Shea's over the last 15 years. 

The Board of Trustees of the Shea’s–O’Connell Preservation Guild Ltd. announced their selection Monday afternoon following a seven-month search.

"We are thrilled to welcome Michael as President of Shea’s,” said John Zak, Vice Chair of Shea’s and head of the search committee.  “Michael’s experience and passion for the theatre arts and his appreciation for the important role Shea’s plays as the anchor of a thriving downtown arts scene makes him a perfect fit to succeed Tony Conte.  Michael’s appointment caps a seven month nationwide process conducted by the Shea’s search committee with the assistance of Korn Ferry International.  The committee received dozens of applications from across North America, and interviewed several local and out-of-town candidates.  In the end, Michael’s combination of experience, intelligence and passion stood out.”

Murphy will leave the Globe on September 26 and take over his new leadership role at Shea's the first week of October.   In a WBFO News interview Murphy said he "loves theater" and starting doing theater when he was kid growing up in western New York.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Outside Shea's Performing Arts Center on Main Street, Buffalo, NY.

“I will miss San Diego and The Old Globe, especially the dedicated and creative staff who dare to tackle any challenge, raising the bar time after time,” said  Murphy. 

Murphy tell us he wasn't actively searching for a job until he learned in April that Conte would be departing at the end of the 2015-16 season. 

"I was not looking to take another job or to relocate. I thought I would stay at the Globe forever," replied Murphy.  "So I threw my hat in the ring and here I am."

Here is a full list of Murphy's work in theater:

Mr. Murphy served as Managing Director of The Old Globe from 2012 to the present, and as General Manager from 2003 to 2012, overseeing the Production, Education, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Facilities Departments, as well as Front of House operations. He also managed the construction of the Globe’s new theatre and education facilities. Prior to the Globe, he was the Managing Director of Austin Lyric Opera in Austin, Texas; Director of Administration of San Diego Opera; and General Manager of San Diego Repertory Theatre. He also held similar positions in New York City at Theatre for a New Audience and the Joyce Theater Foundation’s American Theater Exchange, and served as negotiating assistant for the League of Resident Theatres and sales representative for Columbia Artists Theatricals Corporation. Mr. Murphy serves on the Executive Committees of the National Alliance of Musical Theatre, League of Resident Theatres, and the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, and on the Boards of the National Corporate Theatre Fund and San Diego County Theatrical Trusts. Mr. Murphy has a B.F.A. degree in Stage Management from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, and an M.F.A. in Performing Arts Management from Brooklyn College.

In a news release issued by the Globe, it noted among many of Murphy’s during his tenure included the ‘sensory-friendly’ annual performances he pioneered for Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  The Globe said these performances are presented in a “family-friendly and supportive environment for children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families, along with a number of other special-needs families, allow these sometimes isolated families to experience art and entertainment together in a safe and fun way, an experience that isn’t always easy to come by.” 

Arts & Culture
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