St. Catherine University announced today that Kathleen Spehar, director at The O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, is leaving her post later this summer. Spehar, who has served as director since September 2011, will be taking the role of executive director at the Council On Culture & Arts (COCA) in Tallahassee, FL in August. COCA is the local arts agency for Tallahassee and Leon County.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to lead The O’Shaughnessy during this time in the University’s history,” said Spehar. “The opportunity to build partnerships, resources, access, and visibility for the artists and organizations featured on our stage has been very gratifying. We’ve been able to expand and diversify programming and audiences, and meet the changing needs and interests of Minnesota communities.”
Under Spehar’s leadership, The O’Shaughnessy has grown its formidable artistic and community presence in the local and national scene. Its dedication to amplifying and supporting women innovators in the performing arts includes some of the top choreographers, dance companies, musicians, and songwriters in the nation. The venue’s presenting, commissioning, and supporting new works and projects has expanded to include residencies and deeper community outreach. This has helped deepen partnerships with organizations like CAMM Chinese Dance Theatre, St. Paul Conservatory of Performing Artists, and Temple of Aaron while expanding the theater’s work with The Ordway, Northrop, Walker Art Center, Minnesota Music Coalition, Eastside Freedom Library, Project Success, Madison House Presents, and AEG Live, amongst others.
“Kathleen’s talent and passion is evident in all that she has accomplished in her time at The O’Shaughnessy. It’s no surprise that other arts organizations are eager to partner with her, and we are so grateful for her many years of dedication to The O’Shaughnessy and the University,” said Angela Riley, executive vice president and chief financial officer, St. Catherine University. “Kathleen established relationships that have had a positive impact within the artistic community across the metro area and more widely. She has laid a strong foundation for the next director who will get to raise the curtain on the second half-century in an arts community that is as collaborative as it is creative.”
Spehar’s collaboration with the St. Kate’s academic departments broadened and deepened the connection between arts and academics offerings for students, culminating in the recent community residency with artist Toshi Reagon and sold-out performance of her folk opera, Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Spehar tripled third party funding to The O’Shaughnessy, including five national grants in the 18-19 season.
“I’m humbled by the hard work of the artists, companies, The O’Shaughnessy staff, and our colleagues at St. Kate’s,” said Spehar. “Together, we’ve built a reputation and vision for The O’Shaughnessy that can carry forward for years to come. While I bow out now to pursue other opportunities outside the university setting, I’m proud of our accomplishments and am excited for the future of The O’Shaughnessy and our community.”
St. Catherine University will retain a third party firm to launch a nationwide search for the next director. Until that director is named, an interim team, including current staff and contractors who have served under Spehar’s term, are supporting and managing the current production schedule.
About The O’Shaughnessy
Located on the scenic St. Paul campus of St. Catherine University, The O’Shaughnessy is one of the Twin Cities’ premiere venues for showcasing the arts. Since opening in 1970, The O’Shaughnessy has presented a dazzling array of both local and national performing arts companies, including the Minnesota Orchestra, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, James Sewell Ballet, TU Dance, The Indigo Girls, Joan Baez and countless others. In addition, the venue hosts public events, student and community performances and features multicultural programming with an emphasis on dance, music and theater. Known for its dedication to artistic development and collaboration, the venue has premiered over 400 new works by local and national artists. The O’Shaughnessy is the home of the Women of Substance series, which showcases the artistry and innovative work of women, both prominent and emerging in their fields, whose voices need to be heard.