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Victory Gardens Theater Announces New Management Model; Erica Daniels Named Executive Artistic Director

Victory Gardens Theater Announces New Management Model; Erica Daniels Named Executive Artistic Director

The Victory Gardens Theater Board of Directors today announced a new management design for the 46 year-old institution. When Artistic Director Chay Yew departs at the end of June, Victory Gardens will adjust its executive structure to include the newly-created positions of Executive Artistic Director, Director of Education and Human Resources, Associate Artistic Director and General Manager.

The Board of Directors has appointed Erica Daniels, the theater's Executive Director since 2017, as its Executive Artistic Director. Roxanna Conner has been promoted to The Ralla Klepak Director of Education and Human Resources. Ms. Klepak was a noted Chicago lawyer who championed LGBTQ rights and often used her drama training from Northwestern University to argue cases in court. The Ralla Klepak Trust for the Performing Arts has granted Victory Gardens and other performing arts organizations generous grants designed to promote the inclusion of people with all different kinds of abilities across age, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds in performing arts educational programs.

Victory Gardens also announces that it will conduct a national search for the positions of Associate Artistic Director and General Manager. ALJP Consulting will lead the search at a later date.

Board President Steven N. Miller comments, "We evaluated various scenarios to position the theater for continued long-term success, and we have come up with a new model that will accomplish this goal. On top of that, the roles that we created and the people we selected to fill two of them will undoubtedly allow us to continue to fulfill our core values and artistic mission."

Miller continues, "First, we can't say enough about the value Erica Daniels has brought to the theater since her arrival three years ago. Erica's leadership at Victory Gardens, coupled with her career-long artistic experience and her understanding of art and needs of the theater, its staff and artists, made it clear that the future of Victory Gardens would be in the best hands with Erica as Executive Artistic Director. Likewise, Roxanna has grown our education and community programs, as well as leading our work in HR and in diversity and inclusion. Victory Gardens is in a new level of growth, inclusion and stability and we look forward to starting the nationwide search for candidates to fill the critical Associate Artistic Director and General Manager roles."

Erica Daniels states, "Dennis Začek had a vision for VG to be a big tent that would invite people in to celebrate new work and new diverse work. Chay amplified and embodied that mission and always led with Victory Gardens' values of integrity, diversity, innovation and excellence. I am truly honored to be continuing his work of prioritizing the telling of stories by, for and about all people, and continuing our mission of creating an inclusive and diverse space for our artists, staff, board and audience. Through the past three years, Chay and I have worked together to grow the theater and the organization is very well-positioned, fiscally and artistically. In the immediate future, we look forward to working with JLJP Consulting to find a leadership team with diverse perspectives to bring the theater into this new moment."

Victory Gardens has seen significant financial growth under Erica's leadership. In her time, the theater has added 14 new Board members and five full-time positions, grown its budget significantly, added new major gifts programs and achieved record-breaking revenues for two consecutive galas. Erica has recommended and supervised a number of internal projects to increase revenue, such as converting the theater to a new ticketing system, doing an institutional branding initiative, and completing a Wallace Audience Development for Sustainability project. Erica also helped Victory Gardens fulfill its mission via grants and partnerships. For instance, Victory Gardens has redefined its public programs with a social justice emphasis by securing funding from The David Rockefeller Fund, led the formation of Neighborhood Arts Collective Chicago with funding from the Joyce Foundation and partnered with several foundations, including the McCormick Foundation and the Chicago Park District for the Pipeline community tour on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Furthermore, together with Chay Yew, Erica produced the tentpole productions Fun Home, Indecent and Tiny Beautiful Things, and the Cambodian Rock Band tour initiated at Victory Gardens before moving to City Theatre and Merrimack Repertory Theaters.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew, Executive Director Erica Daniels and Director of Education and Human Resources Roxanna Conner, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals. Victory Gardens Theater is committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, set forth by Dennis Začek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.

For more information about Victory Gardens, visit

Photo Credit: Joe Mazza

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