Paramount’s new boss no stranger

Ten months after the unexpected and unexplained departure of its founding executive director Chad Hershner, the Paramount Theater introduced its new executive director, Edward W. Rucker.

Speaking to a group of journalists on the stage this morning, Paramount Board chair Gary Taylor called Rucker a man of "vision, enthusiasm, and experience" found in a national search that produced 71 candidates. The best person for the job, Taylor said, was "right here."

Rucker– a Charlottesville resident since 1988– served as President and CEO of the nonprofit Richmond Forum, a nonprofit that creates rock concert fervor and and charges rock concert-level ticket prices (as high as $55) for Richmonders to hear heads of state and other high profile speakers.

For 14 years, Rucker has maintained homes in Richmond and in Charlottesville, where, from the late 1980s, he served on the boards of Second Street Gallery and the Piedmont Council for the Arts. Before joining the Forum, Rucker was director of development and government relations at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

In 1990, Rucker was part of a small group of people who gathered in the then shuttered and decaying Paramount to imagine restoring the 1931 movie theater to its former glory. Seventeen years after that meeting, Rucker says he has big plans for the theater, now two-and-a-half years into its renovation.

Under Hershner, the Paramount established a national reputation for internationally renowned acts including cellist Yo Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, soft-rockers including the Indigo Girls and the Beach Boys, as well as comedians Lily Tomlin and Bill Cosby. Hershner has now taken a development post at the 5-year-old, $45 million Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Among Rucker's goals for the coming years: building on the reputation, making better use of the facility through collaborations with other organizations, and initiating new educational programs.

Next Tuesday, July 24, the Paramount will announce 40 of the 81 acts for the upcoming 2007-2008 season.

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1 comment

I certainly hope the new director will lighten up on the Paramount's "no dancing" policy. There's plenty of room in the balcony behind the seating to dance, and some room on the sides downstairs. It's ridiculous to book bands that play good dancing music and cop an attitude whenever somebody stands up. Perhaps they should consider a section of seating reserved for people who want to get up and boogie so they can do so without disturbing those who just want to sit and listen.