St. Petersburg, FL - American Stage’s CEO and Producing Artistic Director, Stephanie Gularte, has announced that the upcoming season will be her final year leading the professional theatre company. Gularte informed the organization's Board of Trustees that she is stepping down for health reasons. She will leave her CEO role in the first quarter of 2021 and will continue to provide consulting to the company through the leadership transition.
Gularte was selected to take over the leadership of American Stage in February 2015 after a nationwide search. She moved to St. Petersburg from Sacramento, CA where she was the founding artistic director of Capital Stage Company.
"Working with the staff, artists, trustees and community partners of American Stage these past five and a half years to build on this organization’s long-standing legacy of quality, professional live theatre and arts education has been an extremely rewarding experience," said Gularte. "However, in February of this year, I was diagnosed with a rare, inherited retinal disease that causes progressive vision loss with no current treatment or cure available. While I am resolved to remain optimistic that my progression will be slow and that eventually, there will be advances in treatment options, after much soul searching, I have determined that it is best for me to step down from my position at American Stage to make space for new leadership who can guide this incredible organization into its post-COVID future, as I take time to focus on my health and future.”
“The Board was saddened to learn about Stephanie’s diagnosis. While the loss of Stephanie’s leadership will be deeply felt, we understand and fully support her decision to take time to focus on her health, said Robyn Rusignuolo, Chair of the American Stage Board of Trustees. “Stephanie is an extraordinary leader. Not only has American Stage’s programming flourished under her artistic direction, but her business acumen and proactive strategic planning have contributed significantly to the financial health and sustainability of the organization. By every measure, Stephanie elevated an already-venerable institution to even greater heights.”
Since her arrival, American Stage has enjoyed continued growth and expansion of its programs, including the development of an annual new works festival, professional apprenticeship and fellowship programs, the completion of the August Wilson American Century Cycle and increased diversity in seasons of contemporary plays that became known for their timely, socially relevant themes. Gularte introduced playwrights such as Dominique Morisseau, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Qui Nguyen to American Stage audiences and prioritized community engagement, fostering opportunities for audiences and artists to connect and engage as well as initiatives to increase live theatre accessibility, such as American Stage’s Next Generation initiative, offering free tickets to young people under the age of 20. Gularte directed last year’s hit American Stage in the Park production, MAMMA MIA! as well the socially provocative mainstage productions GOOD PEOPLE and THE INVISIBLE HAND and the re-imagined Jane Austen-themed holiday play, MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY, among other productions.
Founded in 1977, American Stage has played a foundational role in the evolving landscape of the Tampa Bay arts community for over four decades. Under Gularte’s leadership, American Stage’s sustainability was further solidified through prudent fiscal management resulting in consistently balanced budgets, carefully managed cash flow, and growth of cash reserves, while deepening of talent that has continually raised the bar in the quality and impact of the organization’s work.
“After 34 years of involvement with American Stage, I can confidently say I have never seen the theater in a stronger or more stable position,” said Susan R. Hough, whose long-standing connection to American Stage includes several years as chair of the American Stage board and who now serves on the organization’s Strategic Advisory Board, “We’ve been so very fortunate to have Stephanie at the helm of American Stage, and though I’m sad to see her step down from her role, I am grateful that she is leaving the organization in such a healthy and vital position.”
The American Stage Board of Trustees has formed a transition committee and will begin the process of a national search for Gularte’s successor in the early fall of this year.
“The Board will be working diligently to plan for this transition, as well as the safe return to live programming,” said Rusignuolo. “Stephanie’s leadership has fortified American Stage’s foundation, and it also helped prepare the organization to be able to navigate through the unique pandemic-related challenges we are facing. The Board is committed to ensuring that the theatre continues to thrive and maintain its high standard of excellence.”
“Over the coming months, I’m looking forward to planning our 2020-21 programming, and continuing the development of a COVID re-emergence strategy and an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion action plan in partnership with the American Stage board and senior leadership,” said Gularte. “Beyond that, St. Pete has become my home, and as I make this important adjustment in my life, I look forward to finding new ways to contribute to our community as I look on with pride at American Stage’s exciting next chapter.”
American Stage Theatre operates as a non-profit 501(C)(3) in the heart of St. Petersburg, Florida, providing live theatrical productions as a professional regional equity theatre since 1977. As Tampa Bay’s longest-running, most critically-acclaimed professional theatre company, our vision is to be a vital arts leader, connecting our community to world-class productions that celebrate the most powerful stories of the moment and the most defining stories from our past.
American Stage’s year-round accessible programming brings the power of quality live theatre to each generation with our Mainstage Season, 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival, American Stage in the Park and AS Education & Outreach. 2020 marks the launch of the Virtual Stage and Academy, providing continued community engagement and learning opportunities for audiences and students of all ages through live streaming performances and classes.
American Stage believes that through the telling of dynamic stories, theatre has the power to unite us in our shared experiences and to deepen our connection to one another through the illumination of diverse perspectives.
Powerful Stories. Boldly Told.