Colorado Shakespeare Festival starts next act with Philip Sneed's departure for Arvada Center

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Philip Sneed.
Philip Sneed is leaving his position as artistic director for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, a position he's held since 2006, at the end of the month. He will become executive director of the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, replacing Gene Sobczak, who had left a marketing position at the Colorado Symphony Orchestra to head the Arvada Center, and returned to the CSO last year as CEO.

An e-mail that Sneed sent to friends and colleagues earlier this week speaks of his new position as an "extraordinary opportunity" and affirms his ongoing support for the Shakespeare festival -- which last year produced Twelfth Night in conjunction with the Arvada Center.

See also:
- Colorado Shakespeare Festival puts on a serviceable Twelfth Night at the Arvada Center
- The Colorado Shakespeare Festival follows Lady Macbeth's lead

- Best Supporting Actor in a Shakespeare Tragedy 2012: Geoffrey Kent

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Scene from the Colorado Shakespeare Festival/Arvada Center Twelfth Night.
"We're really looking forward to having him here," says Arvada Center publicity director Melanie Mayner. "We need somebody who has development skills and also leadership qualities, good community relationships and a very visible position in the community. Philip brings all that to the table. He's proven himself to have great skills in fundraising and donor development as well as creating relationships not only here in the region but nationally and internationally. We know he'll continue to position the Arvada Center as the premier multi-disciplinary facility that it is."

Sneed has served two terms as president of the Shakespeare Theatre Association of America. His tenure at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival saw several triumphs: He collaborated with Russia's Maxim Gorky Theatre on a joint production of Gogol's The Inspector General, and last year brought Shakespeare and Company's Tina Packer to Boulder, where she directed a first-rate Richard III starring Nigel Gore (he will return as this year's Macbeth) and, with Gore, performed her own five-part series on Shakespeare's women, Women of Will. This piece will be shown for the first time in New York at the end of the month.

And after years of audience complaints about the problems of sound in the outdoor Mary Rippon Theater, where actors have to compete with the noise of traffic, wind and summer storms, Sneed had last summer's performances mercifully miked.

Sneed "expanded CSF's profile in a big way," says Geoffrey Kent, company actor and a nationally known expert on stage combat and choreography. "He brought in all those crazy Russian actors and Tina Packer, but he also expanded the quality of the acting company by hiring more experienced and Equity actors. Before he came, you had very young casts, thirty-year-olds pretending to be fifty. Now we have age-appropriate actors with Shakespearean resumes. He created a resident company -- and those don't exist any more. As an actor, it's nice to have that relationship with the audience, the confidence of knowing you can take risks and fail and still be back."

The Equity contract is nice too, Kent acknowledges: "Thanks to the union, I have health insurance. And that moves me to tears on occasion."

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