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Jan Kallish exiting Victory Gardens Theater

Jan Kallish

Jan Kallish

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Jan Kallish, who has served as executive director of the Victory Gardens Theater since 2009, and helped oversee a major period of transition at the organization, will be leaving her position at the end of November. General manager Chris Mannelli will assume her duties while the board conducts a search for her successor.

“It is just time for me to think about the next 20 years of my career,” said Kallish, who, before arriving at Victory Gardens held many major posts. She served as executive director of Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre (1997-2003), where she oversaw a major renovation of the landmark building, created a home for the Joffrey Ballet and an international roster of dance companies, and launched the Ovations! Concert Celebrations of Great American Musicals series. Kallish also has credits as a theatrical producer (“The Color Purple,” both on Broadway and in its first North American tour, and “A Catered Affair,” also on Broadway). She also served as a consultant to Matthew Bourne’s NewAdventures (U.S. tours of “Edward Scissorhands” and “Car Man”), and, from 2006 to 2007, was CEO of the Nederlander Broadway venture in Beijing, where she oversaw operations for the first licensed performing arts joint venture in China, and oversaw renovations plans for Shanghai Majestic Theatre.

At Victory Gardens (where Kallish acknowledged things were sometimes “bumpy” during the transition), she welcomed a new artistic director, Chay Yew (who took over following the retirement of Dennis Zacek), opened and dedicated the Richard Christiansen Studio Theater at the company’s home in The Biograph, and produced the world premiere of “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist play that grew out of Sandy Shinner’s Ignition series, and eventually moved to New York.

Under Kallish’s leadership, Victory Gardens acquired significant new funding and increased corporate, foundation and individual giving, and it built many new initiatives to attract young and diverse audiences to the theater.

“I don’t have any specific ‘next job’ yet,” said Kallish. “But I know that whatever I do will be both creative and entrepeneurial. That’s what I like to do; grow things. And as that line in ‘The Color Purple’ puts it: ‘When one door closes another opens’.”

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