WILKES-BARRE– After 15 years at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Executive Director Marilyn Santarelli will retire at the end of the year. The news was announced by the center in an email sent today.
During her 15-year tenure, Santarelli focused on improving programming content while ensuring financial stability and furthering the organization’s multi dimensional mission. Programming initiatives include an Arts Education program and the Signature Series, which supports opera, dance, and straight theatre. The number of performances at the Kirby Center has grown from 10 to more than 70 performances a year.
Santarelli oversaw more than $7 million in capital improvements that included the completion of a façade project, installation of an electronic marquis, a remodeled box office, energy efficient lighting, and the complete restoration of the Main Lobbies and Theatre.
During Santarelli’s tenure, the F.M. Kirby Center’s endowment doubled from $1 million to $2 million.
“Marilyn has worked tirelessly to fulfill the strategic initiatives of the Kirby,” said John Nackley, CEO and president of Intermetro Industries and Chairman of the Board of Directors at the F.M. Kirby Center. “Under Marilyn’s leadership the F.M. Kirby Center has experience unprecedented growth and has been reinvented so that today this historic landmark is a beacon of light in arts and entertainment in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
The F.M. Kirby Center has been instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Wilkes-Barre and continues as a force in economic development. Staff at the Kirby Center has grown to 16 full time employees, 20 part time and 100 volunteers. A range of up to 40 local union stage hands are employed at each show. It is estimated the F.M. Kirby Center impacts the local economy by $5 million, annually.
“I am incredibly gratified by the outstanding support I have received over the last 15 years from the community, a strong and committed board of directors and a dedicated and hard working team,” Santarelli said. “I’m proud that we have had been able to remain adept, so that we could adapt to ever changing environments and economic realities and adopt strategies that ensure the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts’ continued financial stability and long-term sustainability.”
Santarelli has served as a member of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts since 2003 and facilitated the Kirby Center’s hosting of the prestigious Governor’s Awards for the Arts in 2006.