Steven Stolen IRT departure bigpic

IRT's Stolen to exit in swell of arts group departures

Lou Harry
May 30, 2013
Managing Director Steven Stolen will leave the repertory theater for a position with Rocketship Education. Other local performing arts executives stepping down are John Pickett of the Indianapolis Opera and Kirk Trevor of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.

The idea that things happen in threes may be a myth, but over the last few days major changes have hit three of Indianapolis’ leading performing arts organizations.

Steven Stolen, managing director of the Indiana Repertory Theatre since 2006, has resigned to accept a position at Rocketship Education, according to a source familiar with the situation. An announcement is expected Thursday.

In addition, John Pickett has resigned as executive director of the Indianapolis Opera, moving into a consulting role beginning in July, according to the group.

Also stepping down is Kirk Trevor, music director and principal conductor of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra for the past 25 years,

Stolen will take the position of regional director at San Jose, Calif.-based Rocketship. Boosted by a $1 million grant from the Indianapolis-based education reform group The Mind Trust, Rocketship plans to open eight K-5 charter schools in Indianapolis between 2015 and 2020, enrolling 4,000 students.

An IRT spokesman would not comment on Stolen specifically, but said "we’ve already been contacted by people interested in our open positions, and a search committee is being put in place to review and fill those positions."

At the Indianapolis Opera, Pickett ran the company for 16 years through a tumultuous period that included major production cutbacks, as well as the acquisition and development of the Basile Opera Center.

Carol Baker, upgraded to interim general manager from her position as director of education, said there are no immediate plans to search for a replacement. “We are going through a restructuring, and we’re going to use this opportunity to review the needs and wants of the organization,” Baker said.

“Our current strategic plan ends with this fiscal year,” Baker added, ”and the board is already assembling a strategic planning committee. That will inform what type of leadership is needed for the next iteration.”

At the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Kirk's tenure will end after the 2013-14 season, which signals the ICO’s move to become the orchestra-in-residence at the new Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University.

Trevor, who lives in Columbia, Mo., commutes to Indianapolis about 10 times a year for concerts, rehearsals and planning meetings.

Elaine Eckert, executive director for the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, said that Trevor’s replacement won’t be his decision, but expects him to provide some guidance.

“Our musicians have a little more input into artistic interpretation than in most large orchestras," Eckert said. "They will have major input into the search process as well.”