Wayne S. Brown, Director of Music and Opera for the National Endowment for the Arts since 1997 and a native Detroiter, has been named President and CEO of the Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) effective January 1. He succeeds David DiChiera who founded MOT in 1971 and has served as General Director of the theatre since its inception. Dr. DiChiera will remain as Artistic Director.
“We are thrilled to have a man of Wayne Brown’s experience and vision to take over the role that David has so capably carried out for so many years,” said Rick Williams, MOT chairman. “And we are delighted that David will continue as artistic director, the role that’s always been closest to his heart.”
DiChiera announced in February that he planned to step down from his role as General Director to focus on the artistic and production side of the theatre. A search committee, including Dr. DiChiera, has been reviewing and interviewing candidates for the position since that time. Brown is the committee’s unanimous and enthusiastic choice to join David as the organization moves into the next chapter in its development.
“We considered a variety of candidates with a variety of backgrounds, candidates from across the country, and none of them equaled Wayne’s level of experience and enthusiasm for the job. He has a glittering professional record, is a nationally recognized and respected figure in the arts community, and isas thrilled to be coming home to Detroit as we are to have him,” Williams said.
In addition to managing grants for music and opera projects at the NEA, Brown directed the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships, the nation’s highest honor in jazz. Prior to his affiliation with the NEA he served as producer of music programs for the Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta, GA, where he managed music events associated with the 1996 Olympic Games. He also is a former executive director of the Louisville Orchestra and was a founding member of the “Magic in Music” advisory committee for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Brown began his career with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where he was instrumental in bringing about the DSO’s first annual Classical Roots Concert. He is a graduate of the Music School at the University of Michigan.
“Coming home to Michigan to be part of the city’s transformation and to work side-by-side with a legend like David DiChiera is a huge honor for me,” said Brown. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I look forward to building on the enormous strides David, the Board and the staff have made in making MOT one of the premier opera companies in the United States. I can’t wait to get started.”
“This is a win-win situation for Wayne, for David, for MOT and for the City of Detroit,” Williams said. “David has been the inspiration and the power behind MOT for decades and we’re blessed that he wants to continue to play an active role. Having Wayne here to lead the team, direct day to day operations, and build the plan for the future was our major priority and will allow David to focus on the part of the business he loves most. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”
Underscoring the enthusiasm over today’s announcement, Marc Scorca, President of Opera America, said, “The appointment of Wayne Brown as President and CEO of Michigan Opera Theatre is tremendously exciting. Wayne will arrive at the company with an established national reputation, an incomparable knowledge of artistic trends and best management practices, and an unparalleled level of goodwill among his opera colleagues. He has a long-standing commitment to Detroit and its cultural community and will build on the strong foundation laid by David DiChiera.”