Jack Shields, Chairman of the Foundation Board at the Newberry Opera House, is announcing a change of the guard for the Executive Director. Executive Director, Molly Fortune, has announced that she is retiring from the performing arts industry after 23 years. Leaving the Opera House but not her community, Fortune has accepted a position under the Office of the Governor of South Carolina and will vacate her position at the Opera House effective April 2022.
Fortune joined the Newberry Opera House in 2015. Taking the reins from Deborah Smith, founding Executive Director, Fortune played a vital role in expanding the programming and the mission of the Opera House. In 2020, she was honored by being named Chairman of the League of Historic American Theatres Board. Fortune stated that she is taking her new position in Columbia with excitement although she will miss the never-ending joy of live entertainment. Running the Opera House is a very busy job, but her valuable insight and experience starting at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA as the Director of Restoration & Operations to Executive Director at the Newberry Opera House will serve her well in her new position.
Shields, said, “Over the past seven years Molly has steered the Newberry Opera House through a pandemic, a 25k person lunar Eclipsefest party, a Smithsonian tour through rural America, and a few missions to Mars all while bringing world-class entertainment to the Newberry stage. The Board of Directors is very sorry to see Molly go, but we are happy that she had a job offer she could not refuse. Fortune will remain in Newberry and will continue to be part of the Opera House family. We hate to see her go, but she leaves the Opera House in one of the strongest positions that it has ever been.”
During her tenure, the Opera House and its staff successfully weathered the storm of a pandemic. The Opera House went on to be the first performing arts venue in the state and one of the first in the nation, to reopen.
Through the years the Opera House has played host to thousands of performances. From Grammy winners to internationally renowned performers, to regional and local acts, such as Willie Nelson, Roberta Flack, Kansas, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Bolton, Olivia Newton-John, Flava Flav, and holograms of Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly have graced the stage. The 150+ events a year range from Country, Folk, and Bluegrass to Classical, Opera, and Dance; from theatrical productions to family adventure performances featuring everything from dog showsand ice shows to puppets made of light. In addition, the Opera House brings traveling exhibits, such as the Smithsonian’s Crossroads: Change in Rural America.
Longtime board member and supporter of NOH since 1996, Tom Pope states “We will miss Molly but the Opera House staff is excellent, and the important work will continue. The Opera House is currently booking shows for next season, and we expect to have, with a little luck and no Covid, our best year ever in 2022-23. We congratulate Molly for getting a new position which she is well-suited for, and we will miss her.”
Shields noted that: “We are taking applications from qualified arts professionals for the position of Executive Director and are beginning our search immediately. Resumes can be sent [email protected] where a position description can also be requested.”