J. Woody Lotts, the new executive director at the Numerica Performing Arts Center, has his work cut out for him in guiding the valley’s premier theater out of the pandemic and toward a future that is hopefully going to be financially sustainable, artistically diverse and community centered.
Lotts stopped by my office recently to chat with me and my mother, Kathy Woods, who has been a staunch supporter of and advocate for the arts in North Central Washington.
Like every other arts organization, the PAC has had its share of ups and downs in its 20-plus years of existence. Lotts believes the PAC is well positioned to build on its successes and create a lasting future.
Creativity is going to be essential in figuring out how to maintain the profitability of the center so that it can continue to serve the community. Fortunately, Lotts has a diverse and robust background that should serve the PAC well.
He grew up in a small agricultural community in Arizona and, after attending community college a few years, he got a job teaching theater at an international school in Peru. He jumped right into the challenge with both feet, which is an attribute that should serve him well.
After a year, he came back to earn a degree at Northern Arizona University and then moved to Seattle. He did some acting and producing while earning a master’s degree in arts leadership.
When the job opened up at the PAC, he saw an opportunity to make a difference and applied. “It became very apparent that the community really loves the arts here,” Lotts said.
He and his wife moved over in late August, just as the theater opened up with “Mamma Mia,” a show that got rave reviews. He saw how excited people were to be at a live show.
Lotts is gratified that supporters continue to donate to the nonprofit, even though the theater has only just begun to again offer live performances. Most people understand the need to follow precautions to keep patrons and performers safe, he said.
Lotts talked about the powerful community-centered legacy that previous executive director Matt Cadman created. That vision of the PAC as a community center with a stage helped the community see the facility as a vital civic asset.
Lotts, the staff and the board will be working toward developing revenue streams and looking for ways to keep the organization in the black. He sees the opportunity to look at everything the organization has been doing with fresh eyes. Prior to taking the position, Lotts was working for a construction company as a project manager, a business skill that should serve the PAC well.
Like the job in Peru, Lotts and his wife are jumping into this adventure with gusto.
That kind of positive spirit combined with solid financial sense and a passion for the arts is exactly what the Numerica PAC needs right now.
From our conversation, it’s obvious that Lotts relates well to people and that’s essential when it comes to navigating the local arts community. The PAC has critical partnerships with community organizations like Music Theater of Wenatchee and the Wenatchee Valley Symphony that bring community performances to the stage. At the same time, those partnerships can only work if the PAC is financially stable and sustainable.
Life is an adventure and you kind of have to get on for the ride,” Lotts told me. “ I’ve lived in many different places and met many different people, and I think that this was just a place that called to my heart. We really, really love Wenatchee,” Lotts said.
I’m excited to see what Lotts, the staff and the board are able to create.
Rufus Woods is the publisher emeritus of The Wenatchee World. He may be reached at email@example.com or (509) 665-1162.