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Theatrical Legend ZEV BUFFMAN Appointed President & CEO Of Ruth Eckerd Hall

By: Oct. 20, 2011
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Rick Bouchard, Chairman of Ruth Eckerd Hall's Board of Directors, announced the appointment of Zev Buffman as President and CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc.

"Ruth Eckerd Hall conducted a national search to fill the position. Zev's career and background in theater, performing arts centers, Broadway, professional sports and sports arenas, amphitheaters, film & television, have given him a broad understanding and appreciation for all of the entertainment arts," said Bouchard. "He brings a unique legacy and success to lead Ruth Eckerd Hall. We are pleased someone of such great stature has joined our highly qualified team at Ruth Eckerd Hall."

In response, Buffman said, "Ruth Eckerd Hall is one of the most acclaimed performing arts centers in the United States, and I'm very happy to be joining such a prestigious venue. They have assembled a tremendous staff and with them I hope to bring new measures of success to Ruth Eckerd Hall."

Prior to joining Ruth Eckerd Hall, Buffman was President and CEO of the RiverPark Center of Performing Arts in Owensboro, Kentucky, where, over the past eight years, he helped turn the "remote outpost" into a major entertainment hub. His many responsibilities included Director on Kentucky Arts Council Board, Director on the new Louisville Arena Board, and President and CEO of International Mystery Writers' Festival. The New Mystery Festival earned Buffman's new plays 4 Edgar nominations, an Edgar Award and last year's coveted Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America in New York City.

During the early 1960s while still in college, Buffman brought his first musical to Broadway and has never looked back. He has produced more than 40 Broadway shows and 100 National Tours. His many Broadway hits include Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for its first run on Broadway. He also introduced Elizabeth Taylor in her Broadway debut of The Little Foxes, Dustin Hoffman in Jimmy Shine, Angela Lansbury in 2009 - Blythe Spirit (winning her a Fifth Tony) and the official Broadway revivals of OKLAHOMA!, West Side Story, Brigadoon and Peter Pan. 

Buffman has also served as President and CEO for many first-class performing arts centers and/or Broadway Series including 7 in Florida. Among them are the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, the Jackie Gleason Performing Arts Center in Miami Beach, the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center in Orlando and the Parker Playhouse in Ft. Lauderdale where he also facilitated the opening of the new Broward Center for the Performing Arts with Broadway's newest hit at that time, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. While at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa, he created the Tampa Bay Broadway Series having launched the opening season of the new Center with Les Miserables, Broadway's biggest hit at that time and generated 15,000 season ticket holders in the inaugural season. He also introduced the Broadway Series at the Mahaffey/ Bayfront and generated 8,000 season ticket holders for 7 of the best years of that theatre in St. Petersburg. Buffman's cache of Season Ticket holders in Florida topped a national record of 100,000.

Buffman has had 29 Tony Award nominations, won the New York Drama Critics' award for ‘Best Musical', was awarded the very first Florida Ambassador of the Arts, the Distinguished Achievement Award from Wharton School of Business, ‘Entertainer of the Year' award from the Governor of Louisiana, and Decade Achiever's Award from the National Polo Association. He was the recipient of ‘Man of the Year' in Miami, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Miami Beach, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Palm Beach. He also won ‘Producer of the Year' in Washington, D.C. and Florida (six times).

His love for theatre restoration actively involved him as a lead partner in saving numerous National Landmark Showplaces including the world famous Chicago Theatre and the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans' French Quarter. "Working on the Capitol Theatre in Downtown Clearwater will be a delicious top priority" Buffman said.

Beyond Performing Arts, Buffman formed a joint venture with Ted Arison (Founder of Carnival Cruise Lines) and extended his talents into professional sports when, with Billy Cunningham he founded and became the first General Partner of the NBA's Miami Heat.

Buffman has worked with businesses and nonprofit sectors, where he has raised more than $400 million for projects. He has helped communities and municipalities raise funds for theatres and art center facilities to further the arts and restore historic theatres. He co-founded Story Theatre, a not-for-profit theatre for the Youth National Touring Company and The New World Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor.

Buffman earned a BA in Entertainment from LA College and an Honorable PhD in Communications from Nova University in South Florida. His memberships and affiliations include Association of Theatrical Press Agents & Managers (ATPAM), The Broadway League, International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), Urban Land Institute (ULI), Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity Association.

Buffman will join Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc., in January 2012.

Designed by the prestigious Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Ruth Eckerd Hall is consistently ranked in the top 5 venues in the world with seats of 2,500 or less by industry trade publications and is known for its 2,180-seat, acoustically perfect auditorium. Artists from America and around the world, ranging from classical, rock, opera, Broadway, jazz, pop and more are included in the stellar lineup of more than 200 performances a year. Ruth Eckerd Hall is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.



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