KC Rep’s new executive director brings love of the arts to the numbers job

Angela Lee Gieras, Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s new executive director, received an MBA as well as a master’s in arts administration from SMU in 2003.

The Kansas City Star

Angela Lee Gieras, Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s new executive director, is a number cruncher who knows all about balancing the books and full-court fundraising.

But that’s not all. The career arts administrator and former banker said in a recent interview that she also loves and appreciates the arts. That goes back to her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance.

“The University of Florida is where I discovered theater,” Gieras said. “My junior year of college I took an acting class and from that point forward I was pretty much hooked on it.”

Gieras, 40, said she hadn’t been exposed to much theater growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., but learning about acting was such a turn-on that she signed up for a second acting class.

“And then I started taking stagecraft and directing and a whole variety of theater appreciation, and I ended up getting a minor in theater,” she said.

After graduating, she spent about four years as a commercial banker — “it seemed like the rational thing to do,” she said — but she also got involved in small theater groups in the Jacksonville area. Those experiences led her to her first arts job, as development director for the Warehouse Theatre, a small professional company in South Carolina.

The following year she enrolled in graduate school at Southern Methodist University, where she earned an MBA (in 2003) as well as a master’s in arts administration. The program required graduate students to work directly with arts organizations each semester. For Gieras, that included the Dallas Opera and the Dallas Theater Center.

Gieras said she thought a graduate degree would give her higher credibility as an arts administrator and help her achieve her ultimate goal — to lead a theater company. The process began when the Dallas Theater Center, where she had interned, hired her as director of finance. She moved up to general manager and then was named the associate managing director.

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