Ask the Boss: Linda DiGabriele

By Beau Denton January 6, 2014

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Linda DiGabriele has been an integral member of the Asolo Rep executive team since 1973, first as manager of its touring programs, and since 1993, as managing director. She is responsible for the non-artistic elements of running the $8-million nonprofit theater company: personnel, finance, strategic planning, contracting, governance and board relations. In late October, DiGabriele received the 2013 Arts Leadership Award in Management from the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County.

What does being managing director entail? “I make sure the organization is prepared to serve Michael’s [Donald Edwards, artistic producing director] vision. It needs to be in top form, whether legally, strategically or fiscally.”

How do you keep it fresh after 40 years? “Every time there’s change in artistic leadership, that’s a dramatic change in my position. We’re doing a lot of new work with Michael, and that requires a different set of skills and demands in regards to contracts. We’re also involved in a lot of producing partnerships—Tale of Two Cities, Bonnie & Clyde—and that’s another level. And of course the institution has grown enormously over the years. We’re doing strategic planning in a much more thorough and detailed way.”

How many people does the Asolo Rep employ? “Fifty full-time annual employees. By fall, when we go into rehearsal, we double in size immediately, and treble in size by January.”

What’s it like managing highly artistic people? “We try to provide an organizational culture that is open and creative. This is a collaborative art form; it’s reliant on every single person. The grip who’s moving that stage piece at just the right time is as important as getting the budgets right. It’s absolutely a team.”

How did the Asolo Rep weather the recession? “We were cautious, but I don’t apply that to the artistic side. Michael needs to allow his artistic vision full range, regardless of the economic situation, and then we have to find ways to produce that are perhaps more restrained. It’s about making production choices that the audience would never notice.”

Favorite pastime outside the theater? “Traveling with my family. I love experiencing new cultures.”

Something you’ll always see on your desk? “My appointment book. I haven’t transitioned over to having everything on my smartphone yet!”

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