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Local arts director works to ‘bring art to life’

BY JULIANA FABIANO | JULY 06, 2011 7:20 AM

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Megan Flanagan has occupied every role in the creative world of theater. She tried acting. She directed and designed costumes — anything to be around the stage.

“I really enjoy constantly being around creative and passionate people,” the 34-year-old said. “I like to think I do what I can to support the creative process and add contributions to art.”

Her newest contribution is taking on the position of managing director of the new Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. The center is set to open Aug. 26.

A confident and enthusiastic woman, she sat in her cramped temporary office in the Coralville Public Library on Tuesday afternoon. A red sign reading “Keep Calm and Carry On” lay behind a stack of papers on her desk. In past positions, she said, her employees recognized her calm demeanor in all situations.

“Whatever happened, we’d get it done,” she said.

At present, her focus is to plan events for the grand opening of the 482-seat Coralville Center for the Performing Arts in a few short weeks. She began her busy task — hiring staff, booking performances, planning programs, and developing a ticketing system — after she received her position in March.

“Our space is unique, so our mission is to ensure our bookings and audiences know they’re going to have a good experience in coming to our theater,” she said.

Flanagan hired Eric Burchett as the technical supervisor for the center. Burchett, who controls the light, sound, and scenery aspects of the theater, said Flanagan always has a positive attitude and her excitement for theater is contagious.

“You don’t realize when you’re starting off there can be so many daunting tasks to keep track of,” Burchett said. “[Flanagan] has no fear, though; she just dives in and does this.”

Flanagan’s “go-to attitude” stems in part from her extensive work in theater.

Starting as an undergraduate in theater and English at Florida Southern College, she soon began working in many facets of theater: stage managing, directing, designing costumes, marketing, and developing scenery.

“I really enjoyed the creativity of costuming,” she said. “I liked the research aspect of it, and that I could build something out of just fabric was always fun.”

After college, Flanagan decided to focus her career on the marketing and public-relations aspects of theater.

“When I was doing volunteer work for Open Eye Productions I was asked to write a press release on a show, and it ended up getting really great press coverage,” she said. “Ever since then, I accidentally slid into marketing.”

Initially starting at Soap Opera Digest in Chicago, Flanagan also worked at the Chicago Theatre, the Auditorium Theatre, and Stage 773, where she became executive director.

Flanagan’s husband, Dave Pratt, said her job entails a large number of responsibilities. But it is a job she has always tried to do and has been driving her career. She has enjoyed working with the theater community of Coralville, and the job is a great fit for her, he noted.

“She has always had an admiration for theater, so this job allows her to combine that with her marketing experience,” Pratt said.

And Flanagan’s excitement about the job has only grown since taking over her position.

“We are really excited about seeing the final product and providing the community and organizations around the area with this space,” she said. “We’re opening up other opportunities to bring art to life.”


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