Theatre Baton Rouge names new managing artistic director

Jenny Ballard has been named Theatre Baton Rouge’s new managing artistic director.

Ballard began her theater career in 2003 as education director and interim managing director of The Actors Co-op in Knoxville, Tennessee, and soon after became the education director and interim artistic director for the Tennessee Stage Company. In 2007, Ballard co-founded the Knoxville Children’s Theatre and served as its artistic director. She came to Baton Rouge to study at LSU, where she earned her master of fine arts degree in theater.

Theatre Baton Rouge’s search committee invited its top three applicants to an interview in Baton Rouge. The first step was to interview with the search committee and the board of directors. Next, candidates sat down with theater staff for further interviewing. The final step included directing scenes with live actors in front of an audience of theater volunteers.

“It was intense,” Ballard says. “It was very well-orchestrated, and I could really tell the amount of time and detail the committee put into planning the interview. Everyone was so kind and inviting throughout the entire process.”

“We are thrilled that Jenny has accepted the position,” said Erin Woolworth, board of governors president. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. She has the support of the community and will be a great asset to our organization. She embodies a great love of the arts and in particular of Theatre Baton Rouge. Personally, I think her success with the direction of ‘Annie’ for us this summer is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can expect from her.”

The theater’s summer musical, “Annie,” under Ballard’s direction, was scheduled to run June 6 -22. The demand for more performances was clear when all 11 shows were sold out by opening night. “Annie” was extended for five additional performances, which played to sold-out houses.

“Jenny rose to the top of the search committee’s 70-plus applicants,” Administrative Director Jody Banta said. “She is a talented director, vibrant, spirited and is exciting to work with. We are starting a new chapter in our history and I have no doubt that Jenny can lead Theatre Baton Rouge into a bright future.”

Ballard’s plans for the future include expanding the volunteer base.

“It’s like a family,” she says. “There’s such a sense of community, and the energy and positivity here is unlike anywhere else I’ve been. The volunteers are the heart of this theatre and I will do whatever it takes to strengthen that base.”

Other plans include working with Education Director Jack Lampert to continue the growth of the education program.

“As is, it’s a wonderful resource to the community but there’s still more that we can do to take it to new heights,” Ballard says. “They (the children) are the theatre’s future.”

Ballard will start as managing artistic director July 15.