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Philharmonic executive director leaving Las Vegas

Updated October 30, 2020 - 12:02 pm

For the second time in two years, the Las Vegas Philharmonic is looking for a new executive director.

Lacey Huszcza, who moved to Las Vegas in December 2018 to head up the administrative team, will depart that role Nov. 20 to become executive director of the Richmond Symphony in Virginia.

“In our case, this is a good day when people can take steps that they feel are advancements in their career,” said Jerry Kohlenberger, the governance chairman of the orchestra’s executive committee who’ll be leading the nationwide search for her replacement.

In addition to the usual traits — including a love of music and administrative experience in a nonprofit arts organization — interpersonal skills and fundraising expertise will be crucial for the next executive director, Kohlenberger said, as a result of the pandemic.

Ticket sales make up roughly half the Philharmonic’s annual budget. With The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Philharmonic’s home, closed indefinitely and no real path to performing full concerts, Huszcza told the Review-Journal in August that she would need to raise $1.5 million this fiscal year just to keep things running properly.

“There’s certainly no question that it can be very difficult to go to a donor and ask for money to help create these opportunities when also there’s so much other need within the city,” she said at the time. “The hope is that we are becoming that community that wants to provide for both — both the physical needs of those people who are most in danger because of a lack of salary or food or school, but also be able to provide for that enrichment of the soul.”

Her replacement will need to showcase both creativity and flexibility, said Kohlenberger, who also serves as the president of the board of trustees of the National Symphony Orchestra.

“It makes for a challenge,” he said of the pandemic, “but it’s also making for maybe one of the needs for the next year or two for our new executive director is to have some of that creativity.”

Kohlenberger said the internal search committee has been formed, and he expects to have a search firm selected within the next week or so. He’s hoping to have a candidate in place in three to six months. Jeri Crawford, chairwoman of the board of trustees, will fill Huszcza’s role in the interim.

That new executive director, he said, will lead the Las Vegas Philharmonic back to the prominence it had before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had seen constantly improving attendance over the last couple of years,” Kohlenberger said. “It’s clear that the orchestra had become, I think, a real staple for Las Vegas. I think it reflected the growth of the city and its thirst for culture.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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