Charlie Beck, actor and former businessman, is the new executive director of Metropolis Performing Arts Centre.
Beck, who lives in Palatine, was selected from more than 100 applicants to replace Jim Jarvis, who held the post for three years and said his health and desire to be with his family required him to take a less time-consuming job.
"I am planning on a community focus and building strong relationships within the community, including the business community," Beck said Wednesday.
The theater will continue to ask residents of the area what types of performances they want, talk with local charities about how the Metropolis can help them and seek support from businesses, he said.
One goal is to find ways to help people who struggling financially to attend shows, he said. Beck blames the economy for the "softening" of attendance, which he said is a common theater plight.
He also wants the theater to participate in the upcoming celebration of the 125 years the village has been incorporated as Arlington Heights.
Phil Collins, president of the Metropolis Board, said the board is excited about Beck coming onboard.
"We saw significant strengths in Charlie including a combination of experience in the arts and business expertise," said Collins. "We believe that this combination will serve us well as we continue to grow as an organization."
Metropolis recently got a $75,000 loan from the village of Arlington Heights to get through what theater officials called a cash flow problem. It is due to be paid back April 30. The center has a $2.8 million budget.
Beck has been an actor for 10 years after a career in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, including owning his own consulting firm.
His acting roles at Metropolis have included portraying Christmas Present in "A Christmas Carol." He has also performed at the Goodman and Lookingglass theaters.
Beck also was board president and chief administrator for the Lutheran Choir of Chicago for a decade. He sings in the choir at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Arlington Heights. His late wife, Susan, was an administrator for Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights.
"I'm bullish on the future of Metropolis," said Beck. "It's exciting. There's a lot of momentum. We've had almost 800,000 people through the doors over the years."