O'Connell leaving Grand Theater for UWSP - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

O'Connell leaving Grand Theater for UWSP

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WAUSAU (WAOW) – The executive director of Wausau's Grand Theater since 1992 has accepted a new job at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Jim O'Connell said Monday he will resign effective July 31 to teach arts management as an assistant professor of communications at UWSP.

Thanks to everyone who has ever set foot in the theater for allowing me to fulfill so many dreams,” O'Connell said in a statement. “”Leaving the Grand is difficult but knowing that I leave it in good hands - and that the community supports and loves it as much as I do – will make it much easier.”

O'Connell said for a long time he has wanted to teach others the important work of promoting the arts.

I've learned quite a few lessons about the arts and the business of bringing them to audiences,” he said.

Charlie Alden, president of the Performing Arts Foundation's Board of Directors, said a national search will be done to find O'Connell's replacement.

The search could take months and Associate Director Merry Little will take over O'Connell's duties on an interim basis once he leaves, Alden said.

O'Connell succeeded the late Brad Faughn in June 1992. O'Connell oversaw the development of the $13.2 million ArtsBlock Project, which expanded the Grand Theater into a regional arts complex when it opened 10 years later.

The larger facilities have hosted more than 5,000 scheduled activities and attracted big-name entertainers such as Bill Cosby, Aretha Franklin and B.B. King.

O'Connell said $2.7 million was recently raised to cover repairs, maintenance and upgrades to the facilities and equipment.

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