Todd Olson resigning from American Stage to lead Maryland arts festival

Olson has led American Stage for 11 years.

Another Todd bites the dust.

Hot on the heels of the announcement that Tampa Museum of Art Executive Director Todd Smith is leaving for a museum directorship in California comes the news that  another famous Tampa Bay arts executive named Todd is leaving us, too.

A source tells us that Todd Olson, executive director of American Stage for the last 11 years, is resigning to take a job as head of the Columbia Festival of the Arts in Maryland. His last day will be Friday, June 27.

The Columbia Festival describes its programming as an eclectic mix of "film, literature, theater, music, art exhibitions, workshops, artistic competitions and even a circus." But curating that mix will be only part of Olson's job as executive director. Word has it he'll also be tasked with realizing a master plan for Columbia's arts park, including four new theaters.

Olson's expertise and institutional knowledge will be much missed in the Tampa Bay theater community, but he leaves a legacy of excellent, Best of the Bay-winning work (like last season's brilliant Amish Project) that won't soon be forgotten.

Here's the official release from American Stage:


ST. PETERSBURG, FL – American Stage Theatre Company today announced that Todd Olson, its Artistic Director since 2003, will be leaving the theatre to assume the duties of Executive Director at the Columbia Festival of the Arts in Maryland.

One of Florida’s most highly-regarded theatre companies, American Stage has been voted "Best Theatre Company" by Tampa Bay Magazine and Creative Loafing every year during Olson’s tenure.

Olson is American Stage’s second longest-serving leader since the company began in the late 1970’s. "After 11 years, and with the 2014-15 season in place, this is the perfect time for my family to move on,” Olson explains.

In Maryland, Olson will lead a growing organization in a dynamic city between Baltimore and Washington D.C., curating Columbia’s annual summer festival and taking an active part in realizing the city’s new master plan for its downtown park, including a $30 million arts park with four new theatres.

“This is an opportunity I cannot pass up,” says Olson. CFA is a 27 year-old arts organization that produces one of the region’s highest-attended arts festivals, with past acts that include Itzhak Perlman, Aretha Franklin, Philip Glass, Garrison Keillor, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Branford Marsalis, Emmylou Harris, Marcel Marceau, Manhattan Transfer, and Twyla Tharp Dance.

“I feel immense gratitude for my time at American Stage, especially relative to the artists, donors, staff, and audiences,” said Olson. “I will forever be grateful to the small group of angels and friends of the theatre who brought me here in 2003. Words cannot express how much I appreciate and will miss this dedicated and indefatigable staff.”

“American Stage is one of St. Petersburg’s brightest gems, and our success is the result of Todd’s brilliant and engaging vision,” explained Matt Conigliaro, chair of the theatre’s Board of Trustees. “Todd has brought theatre to life in ways that have enriched the lives of tens of thousands in the Tampa Bay area and beyond.”

In the past 13 seasons at American Stage, Olson has directed over 30 plays and produced nearly 40 more, many regional premieres, including some which have been recognized by Creative Loafing as “Best of the Bay” Awards for “Top-10 Productions of the Year”. Last year he received the “Best of the Bay” Award for “Best Director” for Wit, and won the Theatre Tampa Bay Award for “Outstanding Director” for The Amish Project. He was also this year’s recipient of the Florida Professional Theatre Association’s Richard G. Fallon Award for Excellence in Professional Theatre.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished artistically, and the consistently high level of professional theatre we have been able to provide this community,” said Olson. “American Stage has helped me grow as a theatre worker and not-for-profit leader.”

“We are excited for Todd and wish him every success with this new opportunity,” Conigliaro added. Olson will leave American Stage at the end of June and will begin his new position later this summer.

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