Andrea Kotuk / Andrea & Associates (212) 353-9585 |

Liv Amundsen/ Theatre Forward (212) 750-6895 |



March 11, 2020

New York City…Theatre Forward has selected Gretchen Shugart as its new Executive Director, effective April 1, 2020.  Theatre Forward is a non-profit arts organization, based in New York City, that supports a network of 19 prominent regional theatres in an effort to enrich communities and make theatre accessible to all.  Ms. Shugart has been a board member of Theatre Forward for over a decade, serving as President from 2011 to 2018. Her professional experience encompasses finance, entrepreneurship, technology, operations management, and leadership. She assumes this new position following 18 years of service by Executive Director Bruce Whitacre.  She was approved by the Theatre Forward Board of Directors after a national executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG).

As CEO, Ms. Shugart spent 17 years building, Inc., a media and technology company, from start-up to its 2017 sale.  During her tenure, the company acquired U.K.-based WhatsOnStage; launched OvationTix©, a SaaS business providing ticketing, fundraising and CRM tools to hundreds of performing arts organizations; executive produced the Drama Desk Awards, and became a leading provider of theater information and tickets to millions of consumers across the U.S. and U.K.  Following TheaterMania’s sale, she served as President, Arts & Culture of acquiring company AudienceView, ensuring a smooth transition to new ownership.

Previously, she worked at JP Morgan Chase predecessors MHT and Chase; M&A advisory firm CEA; Bank of Montreal and as President of eMediaCapital LLC, an advisory firm. For the last year, Ms. Shugart has been providing consulting services to several early stage ventures.

John Thomopoulos, Theatre Forward Board Chairman, said, “Bruce Whitacre has been a steadfast champion of our theatres, not only for their work on stage, but in their communities where their education and outreach programs have a profound impact.  As we move forward we are pleased to build on Bruce’s legacy.  Theatre Forward has been fortunate over the past few years to benefit from Gretchen’s advice and experience as a leader on our board, and we are very excited that she will be the next Executive Director.  Her knowledge of the theatre industry, both commercial and nonprofit, and her experience generating revenue and growth in this field will be invaluable as we enter a new decade with strong programs in place.  All of us have enormous respect for Gretchen’s insights and management capabilities.  She is the perfect leader to build on what we have achieved as we continue to serve the American theatre and its communities.”

Bruce Whitacre commented, “Gretchen is ideally positioned to immediately guide Theatre Forward as it enters a new phase of work in equity, diversity and inclusion, and educating through theatre.  She was my trusted leader and advisor as board president for seven years, during which we rebranded the organization and designed the programs that have set the stage for our future success.  I congratulate her and Theatre Forward on this wonderful match.”

Gretchen Shugart said, “As incoming Executive Director, I now have the opportunity to work directly with our staff, board, and funders to continue providing service and support to help our member theatres do important work that enriches our communities and makes theatre accessible to more people through a multitude of programs. As a former board member I had the pleasure of working alongside Bruce and the Theatre Forward team for many years.  Bruce has been an exceptional leader, working selflessly to spotlight the programs of America’s leading theatres. I am honored to bring my management experience, love of the arts, and familiarity with the theatre industry to build on our work, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Ms. Shugart currently serves on the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s Advisory Council and is Co-Chair of the museum’s Council on Feminist Art. She is a mentor in Columbia University’s Masters in Technology Management program.  Past board positions include the Vineyard Theater, TADA!, and the Advisory Board of California Institute of the Arts. Gretchen and spouse Jonathan Maurer reside in Manhattan, and have two grown children.

About Theatre Forward

Theatre Forward is a non-profit arts organization, based in New York City, that supports a network of 19 prominent regional theatres in an effort to enrich communities and make theatre accessible to all.  By connecting these theatres to funding and resources on a national level, Theatre Forward helps drive education and community programs that fuel positive social change and engagement. The goal is to increase access and opportunity for all to experience theatre that builds community and sets the stage for achievement. Educating Through Theatre supports educational access and opportunities throughout Theatre Forward’s network of 19 theatres at every age. Programs support the development of 21st-century workforce skills, social-emotional learning, individual cultural and global competencies, and measurement and assessment design for programs with an emphasis on underserved and under-represented youth and adults.  Advancing Strong Theatre supports theatre programs advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion goals for underserved and under-represented communities that complement each theatre’s trajectory of organizational change.  The Bank of America ACTivate Awards are a multi-year grant program that form a key component of Theatre Forward’s work in this area.  For more information, visit