The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, Inc. (ATHC) announced today that arts management professional Laura Kratt of Charlotte has been hired as the organization’s first Executive Director. She will begin her tenure in this newly-created, full time position on July 16, 2018.
When introducing Kratt to the ATHC board of trustees at their meeting on June 27, chair John Cooper said, “It was truly a national search with finalists from California, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas, but we found the perfect candidate right here in North Carolina, just 100 miles away in Charlotte.” Cooper was pleased that Kratt was the unanimous choice of the search committee, a decision that met with the complete endorsement of the executive committee. “All the pieces are in place to begin the final stage of construction that will restore this jewel in the cultural crown of the High Country to its former glory.”
A native Charlottean, Kratt has over 20 years of experience managing the visual and performing arts. Prior to coming to the Appalachian Theatre, she managed National Historic Landmark theatres in New York and Georgia as well as university presenting programs at Washington University, Wingate University and the University of Cincinnati. Classically trained in piano and voice, Laura is a graduate of Wake Forest University and pursued Master’s degree studies in Arts Administration at the University of Cincinnati College – Conservatory of Music.
Most recently, Kratt served as Wingate University’s Director of Cultural Events and was responsible for the artistic and operational management of three theatres serving 90,000+ visitors annually. Prior to her tenure at Wingate, she managed the programs and preservation of two 19th century National Historic Landmark theatres – the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in New York and the State Theatre of Georgia, the Springer Opera House. At the Springer, Ms. Kratt managed the $11 million renovation and expansion of that historic theatre complex. Among her accomplishments, Kratt has served as a Peer Consultant for the League of Historic American Theatres, founding member of the Georgia League of Historic Theatres, Grant Panelist for the North Carolina Arts Council, SouthArts and the New York State Council on the Arts and board member and officer of the North Carolina Presenters Consortium.
The executive director search committee was chaired by Denise Ringler, Director of Arts Engagement and Cultural Resources at Appalachian State University, and included board and community leaders John Cooper, Jim Deal, Gail Hearn, Jane Lonon, Keith Martin, Frank Mohler, Bob Neill, and Dave Robertson.
“Laura Kratt’s wealth of experience as a seasoned arts presenter made her the unanimous choice of our committee, following a national search,” notes Ringler. “Her knowledge and skills in the areas of non-profit management, arts programming, theatre operations, events management and fundraising, combined with her interest in the preservation of historic venues, make her a tremendous asset to the Appalachian Theatre as we head toward our opening and inaugural year.”
Jane Lonon, Executive Director of Ashe County Arts Council, served on the regionally-diverse search committee. She said, “The Appalachian Theatre will be in good hands with the leadership of Laura Kratt. She brings a wealth of experience in administration, programming, and connecting with the community. I have had the privilege of working with Laura on the Executive Board of the North Carolina Presenter’s Consortium for four years, and the High Country is fortunate to have Laura join our team!”
In accepting the job offer, Kratt remarked, “It is a real pleasure to work alongside these dedicated volunteers and Trustees who have worked so diligently to reopen this historic theatre. I know we all want to make it a vital contributor to the cultural landscape and economic development of downtown Boone and the High Country.” Kratt told trustees that she was anxious to get started, and wanted local arts supporters to know that, “While the theatre doors may be closed during construction, you can rest assured we’ll be working hard getting ready to put our best foot forward for the curtain raising in the summer of 2019! Make sure you’re on our mailing/email list.”
The mission of the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country is, “to provide a quality venue for a variety of artistic genres; to contribute to the region by promoting and strengthening the area’s unique cultural identity and creative history; to enhance business in downtown Boone and the High Country; to provide a cultural hub for the area; and to find new life for a historic building while maintaining its financial sustainability and maximizing its economic impact.”
Additional information about the Appalachian Theatre and their ongoing capital campaign may be found on the theatre’s new website, https://www.apptheatre.org.