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Charles Dillingham, managing director of Center Theatre Group, stepping down in 2011

September 17, 2010 |  2:56 pm

Charles Dillingham Have you ever wanted to preside over the finances of a major theater company, one that regularly sends its productions to Broadway? Well, now's your chance.

Charles Dillingham, who has served as managing director of Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group for nearly 20 years, will be stepping down from his position in June 2011, the company said on Friday.

As one of the top executives of L.A.'s largest theater company, Dillingham has been responsible for overseeing CTG's finances, marketing and administrative activities, presiding over periods of tremendous growth as well as economic contraction. He has worked alongside two of the company's artistic directors -- Gordon Davidson, who retired in 2005, and Michael Ritchie.

During his tenure, Dillingham has seen the renovations of the Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum, as well as the opening of the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

"We're a very big company and it's a very big job," said Dillingham, 68, in an interview. "There always comes a time when one feels it's the right moment to let someone else do that."

Dillingham, who lives in Pasadena, said that he plans to devote his time to consulting and volunteer work.

Like many other performing arts groups, CTG has been hit hard by the economic recession. Last year, the company laid off 12 employees -- a tenth of its full-time staff of 120 at the time. It also canceled its 2009 production of "Heddatron" at the Kirk Douglas, a venue that has recently seen its focus shift to mounting smaller productions with shorter runs.

CTG has also seen ticket sales suffer and donations take a hit in recent years. But company leaders have emphasized that its budgetary situation is improving.

"It's been a difficult time for all of us,"  Dillingham said. "And we've had our ups and downs in this
period."

He said the company is working on a three-year planning process "that will bring us out of the recession" but he declined to provide specifics on the financial details of the plan.

Prior to coming to CTG, Dillingham served as chief executive of the Entertainment Corp. USA, which organized U.S. tours for major international dance companies. He also served as the executive director of American Ballet Theatre, the managing director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music Theatre Company, the general manager of the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and general manager of the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

CTG said it will begin a national search for a new managing director in the near future.

-- David Ng

Photo: Charles Dillingham. Credit: Center Theatre Group

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