Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) has hired Gram Slaton as their new Executive Director. Slaton will be charged with overseeing the programming, administration, fundraising, strategic planning and overall operation of the Center.
Selected at the conclusion of a thorough national search conducted by the Arts Consulting Group, he will replace current WHBPAC Executive Director Clare Bisceglia starting Monday, July 16.
“One of the things that excited me most about the Center was the amount of investment the entire Westhampton Beach community has put into it, and not just financially” Slaton says in the Tuesday, June 19 announcement.
“It’s relatively easy for a town to get amnesia after 20 years, but everyone here still remembers a declining downtown from the mid-1990s and recognizes how essential the creation of the performing arts center has been to realizing a full 180 turnaround and establishing Westhampton Beach as a great tourist and second-home destination,” he continues, adding, “The civic pride in the Center is just stunning.”
Slaton comes to the WHBPAC with a theater background and almost 25 years’ experience as executive director for several successful performing arts organizations across the country. Most recently, he helmed the 1,007-seat Grand Opera House in Macon, Georgia where he oversaw the strategic planning, financial management, community projects and fundraising for the theater.
Prior to that, Slaton had great success running the iconic Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado from 2005-2014. At Wheeler, he created unique events, series and festivals that helped maintain the city’s status as the premiere winter sports destination during the 2008–2011 recession.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been a builder or rebuilder of performing arts centers far and wide. Which means WHBPAC is something of an anomaly to me, because there is absolutely nothing broken about it,” Slaton says giving praise to his predecessor.
“Clare has given it a brilliant first 20 years or so, which all of us in the business recognize as the toughest task imaginable. She has selected perhaps the most team-oriented staff I’ve ever experienced, where every member is uniquely talented,” he observes. “So what I hope to bring to the table is an ability to see the theater for what it is now, and discern what it needs to be 20 years hence, and work with the team to build a road to get there.”
WHBPAC Board member and Head of the Executive Search Committee James Kuhn also saluted Bisceglia on the way out. “Today we first say thank you to Clare for leaving this a better place, and we say welcome to Gram whom we look forward to watching replicate his amazing success at the Wheeler Opera House and deliver to the WHBPAC a new vision and a brighter future.”
Together, with his experience as an Executive Director, Slaton is credited with producing and programming several highly publicized and successful festivals, including the Rooftop Comedy/Aspen Laff Festival, the MountainSummit: Mountainfilm in Aspen, a documentary an advocacy festival, and the 7908 Aspen Songwriter’s Festival.
He has programmed thousands of shows with hundreds of acts across every genre, working with some of the biggest names in show business, such as John Oates of Hall & Oates), Faith Hill, David Brenner, Michael Bolton, Jeff Foxworthy, Jon Anderson of Yes, Burt Bacharach and Barry Manilow.
“We’re truly fortunate to have identified such a highly experienced and enthusiastic individual,” WHBPAC Board Chairman Dr. Stanley Zinberg adds. “We are confident in Mr. Slaton’s abilities and the passion he possesses, to further drive the theater’s success.”
Likewise, Mary Skillern says, “As President of the Board, I am pleased to welcome Gram as our new executive director. Gram’s prior experience is similar to our needs and goals to continue the theater’s status and reputation within our community. I look forward to introducing him to all of you.”
Visit whbpac.org to see what’s coming up at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach).