New director Perry wants bigger acts for Englert

BY MARISA WAY | APRIL 12, 2010 7:30 AM

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Andre Perry, the Mission Creek Festival cofounder recently named the executive director of Englert Theatre, already has some fresh ideas for the organization.

“I’m hoping to bring larger acts to the Englert,” Perry said. “I’d like to start making connections with the university and bring in more speakers and lecturers.”

Perry, 32, said he is looking forward to “getting creative with the space” at the Englert, 221 E. Washington St., but he will not stop planning shows for the Mill, where he is a booking agent.

Announced last week as the new executive director, Perry’s job will be to oversee all aspects of the Englert, including marketing, house management, and general relations. The position bridges the gap between the Englert Board of Directors and the daily staff.

Ryan West, the vice president of the Englert Board of Directors, said officials made the decision two weeks ago after several months of searching. He said the board began at the beginning of 2010 because the previous executive director, Sean Fredericks, left after joining the Peace Corps.

Perry said he initially approached the board after discovering it was looking for someone to fill the position, although West said that Perry’s “wealth of experience” caught the attention of the board early on in the process.

“He was interested in the role, and we were interested in having him as executive director,” West said.

He added officials considered a number of “very strong candidates” for the position, yet, he ultimately believed Perry’s level of experience and understanding of Iowa City made him the best fit for the job.

The Englert board had specific qualifications when searching for the new executive director, including “appropriate industry experience,” “effective leadership skills,” and “an intelligent and articulate individual … who possesses excellent communication skills,” according to the original job posting.

The board thought that Perry — who received an M.F.A. from the UI Nonfiction Writing Program in 2008, gained connections in the music industry through his work at the Mill and developed the concept of Mission Creek Festival — was more than qualified for the job on paper and in person.

“What Andre brings to the Englert is his energy,” West said. “He understands where the Englert fits into the artistic ecosystem of Iowa City.”

And although Perry’s experience with events is more geared toward the music scene, West said the board thought that he would be able to expand on the literary and artistic acts that are brought to the Englert as well.

“The Englert is many things to many people,” West said. “Our slogan for the Englert is ‘It all happens here’ … we thought that could be the case with Andre.”

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