Hail not farewell for longtime Buffalo Theatre Ensemble artistic director

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s longtime artistic leader and a co-founding ensemble member announced she will step down from her position as managing artistic director on June 30.

Connie Canaday Howard served as the DuPage County theater’s artistic director for 24 years, many of them alongside associate artistic director Amelia Barrett, who will serve as interim managing artistic director for the 2024-2025 season.

“I probably will slow down a bit, but I’m not retiring from theater,” said Howard, who last appeared onstage in BTE’s revival of Bruce Graham’s “The Outgoing Tide” in February.

The actor/director will remain a member of the equity theater company, which has been in residence at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage since its 1986 founding.

The ensemble was established in the mid 1990s.

BTE faced challenges over its nearly 40-year tenure. In 2014 the MAC, citing financial concerns, severed relations with the theater. Two years later, buoyed by community and subscriber support, BTE returned. The subsequent COVID-19 pandemic also shuttered the theater for more than a year.

In the wake of those challenges, BTE rebounded financially and enlarged its ensemble. Howard attributed its success to hard work, loyal supporters and careful programming.

“I am really proud of our ability to grow the mission and grow our outreach,” Howard said. “We are back to pre-pandemic numbers. But that doesn’t mean we can stay there.”

She remains optimistic about BTE’s future and its mission to deliver quality theater and help train the next generation of theater artists.

“I think it is going to be an exciting new chapter, an exciting time of growth for BTE moving forward,” she said.

“I believe strongly in the ability of the arts to change individuals, to bring to light issues we have a hard time confronting,” she said. “We can see a perspective in theater and start to grapple with it in our own life.”

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