Leading the way

Kevin Maroney joins Bristol Riverside Theatre as managing director

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

The new guy in town: After a six-month nationwide search, Bristol Riverside Theatre recently welcomed Kevin Maroney as its new managing director. In his role, Maroney hopes to make BRT relevant in more people’s lives by seeing what the community requires from its local theater. Source: Kevin Maroney

When it comes to making big career moves, timing is everything.

It was about three years ago, and Kevin Maroney had just hit his stride at Baltimore Center Stage, working alongside artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah to provide vital leadership to the regional theater. Under Maroney’s watchful eye, box office records were set, a 12-month construction project was successfully completed, and a professional internship program was introduced.

So when Maroney got word the ever-thriving Bristol Riverside Theatre was seeking a new managing director, he was annoyed. It was the perfect next step in his career, but it came at the wrong time. There was still more to accomplish in Maryland and he wasn’t ready to uproot his family just yet.

Thankfully, things have a way of coming full circle. In 2017, BRT announced it was yet again searching for a managing director. By this point, Maroney had five years at Center Stage under his belt and felt it was prime time for his next adventure. After a nationwide search conducted by Managing Consultants for the Arts Inc., Susan D. Atkinson, Keith Baker and the rest of the BRT staff welcomed Maroney with open arms.

“After a comprehensive six-month search, the board is delighted to welcome Kevin into the BRT family,” said board president William J. Salerno. “Kevin’s broad experience and versatility, combined with his business acumen, adaptability and boundless energy, are just the right combination to move BRT into the future.”

Maroney boasts extensive experience in business, living everywhere from Chicago to Florida throughout the ’90s to lend his expertise to various startup companies. But through it all, the performing arts always held a special place in his heart.

“I’ve always been a lover and patron of theater,” he said.

While obtaining his BA from Seton Hall University, he would drag his girlfriend (now wife) to different productions so he could write reviews on them. Naturally, that passion was inherited by their son, who was heavily involved in the arts as a child. Reflecting on those years of taking his son to rehearsals, Maroney said theater staff would regularly seek his advice on how they could sell more tickets.

Without hesitation, he obliged, soon realizing he stumbled upon his dream career path. As someone who never aspired to be in the spotlight, working behind-the-scenes to “make theater happen” was the perfect utilization of his business skills and love of theater.

According to Maroney, government funding for the arts has been continuously shrinking, leaving nonprofit theaters to rely on contributed income and ticket purchases to stay afloat. During his five years at Baltimore Center Stage, he used his strengths to immerse himself in the community, collecting feedback to see what residents, businesses and sponsors required from their local theater.

“We need to continue to be relevant in people’s lives,” he said.

As Maroney adjusts to his new role, which officially started on May 1, his mission will remain the same — to make BRT readily come to people’s minds when they’re in need of something to do. Though Baltimore Center Stage has been in the same location for more than 40 years, he constantly encountered locals from a less than five-mile radius who didn’t know it existed. He doesn’t want this to be the case for BRT.

“When you’re in the environment, you think everyone knows,” he said. “That’s the trick, to get their attention.”

So how does Maroney plan to get and keep BRT on people’s radars? By being the ultimate ambassador. Over the next few months, expect to see him out and about in the neighborhood, working to discover the interests of the Bristol community and how BRT’s productions can overlap with them. Maroney understands theater isn’t for everyone, but he’s not letting that discourage his efforts. Even if it doesn’t spark one person’s interest, there’s a good chance they know a friend, family member or colleague who would consider purchasing a ticket.

Along with Atkinson and Baker, Maroney is also on a mission to prevent BRT from becoming stagnant. As the theater prepares to wrap up arguably one of its most successful seasons to date with Triumph of Love, Maroney is asking one question — how do we do better? For him, looking for areas of improvement doesn’t suggest there was anything wrong before. To stay successful, it’s all about raising the bar to keep current patrons engaged while attracting new ones to what Maroney called the “magic” of theater.

“It’s live humans on stage telling a story. It’s always a once-in-a-lifetime event,” he said.

Bristol Riverside Theatre is located at 120 Radcliffe St. Visit brtstage.org for more information. ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com