Joe Keefe out as Metropolis Performing Arts Centre executive director

  • Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's Joe Keefe is out as the Arlington Heights venue's executive director, a position he's held for nearly six years.

    Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's Joe Keefe is out as the Arlington Heights venue's executive director, a position he's held for nearly six years. Daily Herald file photo 2015

 
 
Updated 9/20/2021 6:53 PM

Metropolis Performing Arts Centre executive and artistic director Joe Keefe, who helped usher an artistic renaissance and financial stability to the Arlington Heights performing arts venue, is out as of Monday.

Metropolis board president Stephen Daday declined to comment on the circumstances of Keefe's departure.

 

"We treat personnel matters as confidential," said Daday, who would only say the "separation was effective today."

Daday acknowledged "there was an investigation, and it has been concluded," but he did not elaborate on the subject of the investigation.

Keefe's separation comes less than a week after former Metropolis resident director Lauren Berman penned an open letter to the Chicago theater community in which she recounted experiences she says she witnessed at Metropolis. The letter was posted on Rescripted.com, an online forum for theater artists and theater aficionados.

In the letter, Berman cited actors reported feeling unsafe on a set, a female actor who felt pressured to dance with the executive director and an actor who was "verbally berated and pressured to talk in front of an entire cast and production team."

"I tried finding ways to expose the truth behind the curtains by reporting wrongful behavior through phone calls/emails, a letter to the board, or reaching out to production staff," she wrote. "Yet all my attempts to be heard were returned with placated responses of 'Thank you for letting us know,' or 'We are aware of the problem and are working on it.'"

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Associate artistic director Sabrina Odigie and executive operations director Brookes Ebetsch will continue to manage the not-for-profit, 329-seat theater, which offers a main stage theatrical season along with concerts, comedy and cabaret performances. Metropolis also operates a performing arts school.

"There have been great strides made in the last five years in terms of production quality, the quality of performers and the selection of the shows," Daday said. "We intend to continue with that."

The venue struggled financially prior to Keefe's hiring, but that has not been an issue since 2015, Daday said.

"The foundation has been laid for continual success at Metropolis. But for the pandemic, we were poised to have our best revenue year ever last year," said Daday, who estimated Metropolis had about $400,000 in reserves prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced theaters to shut down.

The board will begin a nationwide search for a new artistic director, which Daday expects will be completed in three to six months.

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