March 22, 2021



Tony Adams.jpg

TONY ADAMS, a Chicago-based theater professional most recently working in Portland, Maine, will become Opera House Arts’ fourth Executive Director April 5. Adams will be joined by a new, part-time Director of Artistic Programs later this year. Photo by Karl Clifton-Soderstrom.

Adams brings both theatrical background and rural upbringing
to Opera House’s next generation of leadership


Opera House Arts (OHA) is pleased to announce that, completing a seven-month national search during a pandemic that attracted more than 100 candidates, Tony Adams will become the Executive Director for the 21-year-old arts organization and community institution beginning April 5. Adams succeeds Per Janson who resigned in July.

“Tony will be a strong business leader to take Opera House Arts into its next iteration,” said Bill Anderson, Chair of Opera House Arts’ Board. “The pandemic created unforeseen challenges in the search process, particularly in our ability to bring candidates to the island, and we’re very grateful to the nine members of the Search Committee who worked tirelessly for months to be sure we located the best fit for OHA and for the island.”

The larger-than-normal Search Committee represented the diversity of the island communities and was co-chaired by OHA Board members Grace Gregor and Ray McCaskey. Committee members included Kathleen Billings, Galen Koch, Bob Lasky, John Lincoln, John McVeigh, Ron Stegall, and Nancy Wilson. Wilson is also chair of OHA’s Community Advisory Board.

Adams brings to the post 20 years of experience in fundraising, budgeting, and marketing and communications, including: analytics and data management, public relations, grant writing, advertising, video planning and creation, graphic design, photography, video and web development. With his combination of theater arts, management and budgeting skills, Adams is uniquely qualified to take over as the chief executive working closely with a yet to be appointed, part-time Director of Artistic Programs.  Together, they and the OHA Board and Staff will bring to the Opera House, the Burnt Cove Church Community Center, the Stonington ball field, the schools, and other community venues a calendar of performances and programs to touch the hearts and minds of current and new audience members.

For 14 years Adams and his wife, Jennifer, led the nonprofit Halcyon Theatre in Chicago’s Albany Park Neighborhood, an innovative theater ensemble “committed to making the stage as diverse as the city of Chicago--presenting new voices from inadequately represented communities and recasting classic works to showcase their contemporary relevance.” In that capacity Adams successfully raised funds via special events and grants. He mentored emerging artists, co-created a 7-year festival of women playwrights, all the while forging partnerships with community and cultural organizations in the Latinx, African-American and Asian-American communities that comprise Albany Park.

“Tony Adams is a community-minded leader with many years of experience in the performing arts,” said Shoni Currier, Director of the Bates Dance Festival who previously worked in and knew Adams in Chicago. “I've seen him rally artists and audiences together in his roles in Chicago as well as at TempoArt in Portland. He'll bring exciting ideas to the Opera House!”

“I am excited to be the next Executive Director of Opera House Arts and to be partnering with the Board of Directors, staff, Community Advisory Board, volunteers, and the entire Stonington and Deer Isle community” said Tony Adams. “I’ve been continually impressed by the dedication of OHA’s board, staff, audience and supporters--especially over the past year which has been devastating for so many. Everyone is invested in seeing Opera House Arts thrive.

When I first learned about Opera House Arts I got really excited,” Adams continued. “Presenting theater, jazz, poetry, movies, being a community center, and more in an island community—it sounded magical. I’m inspired by the Opera House’s legacy. It has served as a community anchor and gathering place for over 100 years. I grew up in a fairly rural area that didn’t have anything like OHA. I know how big of a hole there would be without the Opera House. I love the wide range of artistic and community programs, and knowing there is something to welcome everyone. That is not true everywhere. There's so much opportunity for Opera House Arts, I'm excited to lead it into a thriving future.”

To learn more about Adams, watch for an upcoming interview in OHA’s Coffee on the Couch Series at www.operahousearts.org. Additional information on the incoming Executive Director will continue to be made available there.

Opera House Arts (OHA) recently announced and is looking forward to embarking on its 22nd consecutive summer season in 2021. Tickets for all summer events, including movies, will go on sale shortly and be available only through online purchase in accordance with the theater’s COVID-19 policies and enhancements. One of only a handful of year-round theaters in Maine to operate under an Actors Equity Small Professional Theater contract, OHA not only presents but commissions and produces new work from Maine artists. Opera House Arts’ performances in multiple venues, including the nonprofit organization’s mainstage home at the 1912 Stonington Opera House, on the National Register of Historic Places, have become notable destination events for the New England region. Showing movies nearly continuously since 1918, the Opera House is normally open 52 weeks a year with a full schedule of film, community events and exciting original performances unlike the schedule of any other theater in Maine. During the past year of the pandemic, OHA has pivoted to include Drive-In Movies, an outdoor stage in collaboration with the Town of Stonington, and virtual programming available at its website, www.operahousearts.org.