Paula Tomei. (Photo by South Coast Repertory.)
COSTA MESA, CALIF.: South Coast Repertory (SCR) announced today that managing director Paula Tomei will step down at the end of the current season. She has been with SCR for 44 years, including 30 as managing director.
“It has been an honor and distinct privilege for me to not only serve as South Coast Repertory’s
managing director for the past 30 years, but to spend my entire career working here,” Tomei said in a statement. “Throughout that time, I have been continually inspired by and fortunate to have worked with
remarkable artists, dedicated staff, and incredible community leaders and supporters. There’s no
greater joy in life than doing what you love, and I was one of the lucky people who experienced that every day.”
As SCR’s first and only managing director, Tomei has led the organization through numerous periods of growth and change, including multiple large-scale fundraising campaigns. She co-led the company through the pandemic shutdown and subsequent reopening, bringing theatre to the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano. From 2005 to 2011, Tomei led the endowment campaign to support artistic and educational programs, including the Pacific Playwrights Festival and theatre for young audiences initiatives. She also served as the president of the board of directors for Theatre Communications Group, the publisher of American Theatre, for four years, and served as TCG’s treasurer. She also served as the vice president of the League of Resident Theatres and as a member of their negotiating committee for industry-wide union agreements.
In her time at SCR, Tomei has received the Arts Orange County Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award, the City of Costa Mesa’s Mayor’s Award, recognition from the Orange County Business Journal, and recognition from her alma mater, the University of California Irvine. She was appointed by the UC Irvine chancellor to the university’s Community Arts Council and is also a board member of Arts Orange County and the Nicholas Endowment. Tomei has taught nonprofit management at UC Irvine and has taught in the business school at Stanford University.
“It is an honor to work alongside Paula Tomei,” artistic director David Ivers said in a statement. “Her proven record of stewardship and her tremendous respect for South Coast Repertory has anchored the theatre with the vision and resources it requires to stay relevant into the future. I am deeply indebted to her for her personal and professional support during very challenging times. She will be missed dearly.”
The SCR board of trustees is organizing a search for Tomei’s successor.
South Coast Repertory presents a balance of classic and modern plays and musicals. The theatre is known for its comprehensive new-play development program, the Lab@SCR, which includes one of the nation’s largest commissioning programs for emerging, mid-career and established writers. As of 2021, the theatre had a budget of approximately $10.6 million.
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