Master Arts Theatre Making Progress in New Director Search

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

matMaster Arts Theatre, the local faith-based community group which offers a full schedule of annual stage productions, hopes to have a new executive director by this fall.

"We've been actively interview candidates for the last number of weeks," said John Miedema, chairman of the non-profit organization's board of directors. "We've been pleased with the response and the caliber of candidates we've been getting."

Master Arts Theatre (MAT) celebrates its 30th anniversary this coming season, and long-time director Pris McDonald has served as both artistic and executive director. The former Grace Bible College faculty member, now in her 70s, is concentrating on the artistic side while the new full-time executive will handle all administrative duties.

"This will be a typical executive director who will be involved in marketing and fundraising and a whole list of other things," noted the chairman of duties such as staff management and evaluations, developing budgets and strategic plans and expanding the volunteer base.

"This person will be the 'face' of Master Arts to the community," he added.


After several decades of moving to different sites, MAT purchased its own performance space in 2003 – a 100-seat converted church facility on 77th St SE in Byron Township. It has been upgraded several times through the years – most recently adding new carpeting.

MAT has produced more than 100 main-stage plays over the last 30 years, mixing classics such as "Brigadoon" and "To Kill A Mockingbird" with thoughtful religious works like "The Screwtape Letters" and "The Book of Job."

MAT also runs drama classes and summer day camps for youth. The organization sponsors an annual winter youth production and in recent years has hosted a film camp. Various troupes also do street theatre, improve and mime as well perform murder mysteries for dinner-dessert theatre events.

The move to a separate, full-time director means a budget increase for MAT. Miedema said the board has been involved in raising funds planning a transitional period of several years as the new executive steps into place and assumes the load of development work with donors and fund-raising.

Other Master Arts board members also involved in the search: area marketplace chaplain Jim Emery, retired physician John McDonald and local CPA/business owner Dale Day.

Miedema said about half the applicants are from West Michigan, the remainder from elsewhere around the country. "We've done several Skype interviews," he noted.
Most of the candidates have experience in managing non-profits, including marketing and fundraising, according to Miedema. Some also have been involved on the artistic side and may use some of those talents here as well. "But primarily it will be the business side of things," he said.

Search team members have been arranging follow-up interviews as they work toward a goal of securing a new executive director in time for MAT's first production of the coming season, "The Hobbit," which opens Sept. 10.

"Once again, we're pleased with the response we're getting and we look forward to the next step."

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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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