Hartford Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors names Steve Collins as new Executive Director

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HSO and Bushnell boards also approve renegotiated four-year management services contract

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors voted on Wednesday to name Steve Collins as the HSO’s new Executive Director, effective immediately. Collins has served as the orchestra’s Director of Artistic Operations and Administration since August, 2014.

Collins succeeds David Fay, who continues as President & CEO of The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, in leading the HSO management team and assuming responsibility for the general management of the organization. Fay assumed the position of interim President & CEO of the HSO in April 2014 when The Bushnell and the HSO formed an alliance through a two-year management services contract.

In addition to leadership change, the HSO Board of Directors and The Bushnell Board of Trustees each approved a new, renegotiated four-year management services contract, which returns overall management responsibilities to the HSO administrative staff and retains some support services with The Bushnell. The renegotiated agreement, which goes in effect April 1, will provide the HSO with back office services including financial reporting, supporting fundraising data and records management, human resources administration, box office services, IT services and administrative office space.  The Bushnell management team will be available to the HSO in an advisory capacity regarding finance, marketing, education and community engagement, and programming implementation.

These changes are supportive of the orchestra’s firm commitment to implement its strategic framework, which was approved by the HSO Board of Directors last June. The strategic framework places the Greater Hartford community at the center of the orchestra’s decision making process and its work, with the goals of growing the organization for greater community relevance, creating financial stability, and maintaining the highest artistic standards.

“I am thrilled that Steve Collins is assuming the role of Executive Director of the HSO and that we will continue our relationship with the Bushnell from an administrative support perspective,” said HSO Board of Directors Chairman, Jeff Verney. “It’s been a busy couple of years for the organization, with Maestra Carolyn Kuan’s six-year extension of her contract with the HSO, a management services contract with the Bushnell which included executive level support, the development of a new strategic framework for the HSO, settlement of a four-year contract with the musicians, and now the appointment of Steve as Executive Director and the renewal of the Bushnell contract in which executive responsibilities are returned to the HSO.

“We are now ready to write an exciting new chapter for the HSO and we look forward to meeting the needs of the greater Hartford community through the magic of orchestral music,” Verney added.

“It is a tremendous honor to expand my role with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, particularly at this time,” said Collins. “I believe we can rise to the challenges of expanding the orchestra’s role in community development, diversifying audiences while maintaining a firm commitment to artistic excellence, and growing our financial support on several fronts, including a vitally important capital campaign.  Working in partnership with Music Director Carolyn Kuan, Board Chairman Jeff Verney, and loyal stakeholders, and, of course, the marvelous and committed musicians of the HSO, our future is limited only by our imagination and determination.”

“It has been a great honor for me and our Bushnell management team to serve the Hartford Symphony Orchestra over the past two years,” said Bushnell President & CEO, David Fay.  “Our primary goal was to assist the HSO in generating and implementing a strategic plan and an economic model that would be sustainable well into the 21st century, and that would support the extraordinary artistic brand for which the HSO has come to be known.

“Key to achieving this goal was finding a visionary leader with a depth of experience in symphony management, who would be able to work closely with Maestra Kuan and with the board of the HSO to assure the long-term artistic and financial success of the HSO as it serves our community for decades to come,” he added. “Steve Collins is just that person.  He is an individual of great personal integrity, who possesses a strong business acumen and is imbued with a great passion for symphonic music.”

“The HSO’s alliance with The Bushnell over the past two years has provided important support to the orchestra, and I am grateful to all of The Bushnell and HSO constituents who have worked tirelessly for our organization and community – the staffs, the HSO Board of Directors, The Bushnell Board of Trustees, musicians and patrons, each of whom will continue to be a part of our HSO family,” said HSO Music Director Carolyn Kuan.

“I have enjoyed working with Steve Collins over the past two years.  Steve is passionate, a trusted colleague, and an excellent leader,” Kuan continued.  “I look forward to working closely with him as the Executive Director as we continue to serve Hartford with innovative and dynamic programming, enhanced community collaborations, and enriching concert experiences.”

“We wish Steve Collins well in his new position as Executive Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra,” said Barbara Hill and Rick Rozie, Co-Chairs of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra Committee. “The musicians are eager to establish a bigger footprint in the Greater Hartford community by continuing in their role to provide high quality, live symphonic music.”

About Steve Collins

 Steve Collins is driven by a deep belief in the transformative power of great music and the symphony orchestra’s ability to positively impact community development.  Since August of 2014, Collins has served the Hartford Symphony Orchestra as Director of Artistic Operations and Administration, helping guide the organization through a radically changing cultural environment, financial landscape, and role as a leading regional arts organization.  Collins has served as a champion of artistic development, working with HSO Music Director Carolyn Kuan to infuse performances with digital media content, engage audiences in imaginative ways, and create opportunities for community collaboration.  Additionally, Collins spearheaded an organization-wide realignment with community resources including negotiating critical agreements and establishing the position of Hartford Symphony Assistant Conductor, naming Adam Kerry Boyles as the first to the position.

Formerly Executive Director of the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra and Education Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Collins has successfully raised over $4 million in endowment support and project funding, revitalized orchestra operations, and created education programming serving more than 40,000 children and families annually throughout Connecticut.  Collins also served as Librarian and Educational Consultant for the GreaterBridgeport Symphony, where he implemented the first fully integrated educational program in the organization’s history.  Additionally, Collins was Project Manager for Collins Construction Company, where he managed commercial renovation and new construction projects up to 100,000 square feet.  Collins is the 2014 Elizabeth L. Mahaffey Arts Administration Fellow, a distinction of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.  He also enjoys performing as a percussionist with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Greater Bridgeport Symphony Orchestras, Goodspeed Musicals, and varied chamber ensembles across the tristate area.  Collins holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford.

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