GLENS FALLS -- A national search for a new executive director of the Charles R. Wood Theater found the ideal candidate locally.
The theater board on Tuesday announced the hiring of Erin Coon, who has been acting interim executive director since October.
“We have a wonderful, unique community. And it was important for us to find somebody who not only could do the job, but would fit well with our community and our community could fit well with them as well,” said Debra Ann Meier, president of the theater’s board of directors.
Coon previously was the theater’s operations manager for two years, and several years ago she completed an internship with Adirondack Theatre Festival, one of the theater’s major tenants.
Coon, a 2000 graduate of Queensbury high school and 2002 graduate of Adirondack Community College, said working in theater in her home community is a joy, especially when people such as her eighth-grade English teacher attend a production.
“That’s a special bond that I wouldn’t have if I was in the city,” she said, referring to New York City.
Coon said she will focus on increasing family programs to appeal to a broader audience.
The focus in the past has been on drama productions and concerts for adults.
Programming for adults will remain important, but the board wants to attract more people from the community to the building, Coon said.
Coon said she also wants to increase special events in collaboration with local arts and cultural organizations.
Discussion is under way about a collaborative program with World Awareness Children’s Museum, and the theater already is hosting the first “24-Hour Playfest” on Saturday in collaboration with Art in the Public Eye, a local arts organization.
Ten teams of five people each will write, produce and rehearse short plays in a 24-hour period, to be performed in a competition at 8 p.m. Saturday at the theater.
“People are coming back from New York City who grew up here. And they’re saying, ‘This is great. We want to be part of this,’” Coon said of the competition.
Coon, 30, received a bachelor’s degree from SUNY New Paltz and a master’s degree in arts administration from Indiana University.
She is enrolled at Capella University, where she is working toward a PhD in human services, focusing on nonprofit management.
A search committee received more than 50 resumes for the position, from as far away as California, Florida and Texas, said Meier, president of the theater’s board of directors.
One of the finalists was from Colorado.
The search committee narrowed the field to about 12 applicants for telephone interviews, and then to about six candidates for in-person interviews.
The committee narrowed the six down to three candidates for second interviews with a panel of past board presidents and major donors, before the board made its selection.
“We all unanimously feel that Erin can lead us right into the direction that we want to go to,” Meier said.
Glens Falls Mayor John “Jack” Diamond said he looks forward to involving Coon, and the theater, as part of the city’s downtown business recruitment efforts.
“I think the board made the right choice,” he said.