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Camelot hires new executive director

A longtime development and marketing specialist is taking the reins of the business side of Talent's Camelot Theatre. Dann Hauser, president of Carpe DM, a Medford firm specializing in marketing, public relations, planning and branding, became Camelot's new executive director as of Saturday. At the top of his to-do list is getting Camelot's ducks in order to commence a capital campaign aimed at paying off the theater company's $500,000 mortgage. He estimates the effort will be up and running in two to three years. "This is to take Camelot to the next level," Hauser said. He said he expects it to take a couple of years to get the theater into shape to undertake a major capital campaign. "It pulls money from operating income," he said. "And we don't have an endowment.  It will be so much easier to get a campaign under way then." Hauser has been a member of Camelot's board for the last three years. He says Camelot adviser Elizabeth Zinser, the former president of Southern Oregon University, first suggested that he manage the theater's fundraising and development missions. "His main duty will be to retire that darn mortgage," Artistic Director Livia Genise said. "A lot of people think we paid for our building, but we were $500,000 short." Genise says a special Camelot committee told the theater's board a couple of years ago that the company needed an executive director but couldn't afford to hire one. But an attendance jump of about 10 percent for the 2014 season made it possible. "One of the things that was holding us off from Slay the Dragon (the capital campaign) was operating expenses," Genise said. "But with more than 2,000 new patrons, it's been a godsend." The theater company was paying $8,000 a year on its longtime, former home, a converted feed store. But the tab for the mortgage on its new home, the James Morrison Collier Theatre at 101 Talent Ave., is $3,500 a month. Genise said Hauser will take over duties that Ted Gibbs has been doing, and Gibbs, a longtime Camelot board member who temporarily left the board to take on executive director chores, will return to the board. Hauser will also relieve Genise of marketing chores she's been doing. "It'll be such a relief to have someone who knows the ground game," Genise said. "One of the most important things is, he does what he says he's going to do. That's really important. I want to pay my actors more, and I can't do it until that mortgage is gone." Genise says she didn't want to bring in somebody from outside Southern Oregon. "The last person we talked to from outside the area asked if we'd thought of branding the organization," Genise says. "Of course we do that. Dann knows it, and he knows the staff." Like typical theaters of any size, Camelot does not make enough money from ticket sales to cover its operations and must raise money from donors and business underwriters. Camelot sells tickets for $22 to $26 and boasts a pay-what-you-can night at which patrons are admitted for whatever they wish to pay. Ticket sales make up about 50 percent of the budget. While acting in small theaters is often a labor of love, that's somewhat less true with musicians, who often depend on performing to make a living. And Camelot does a lot of musicals.  Hauser has nearly 30 years of experience in strategic planning, development, marketing and public relations with businesses and nonprofits. Carpe DM clients have included Friends of the Fair Foundation, Harry and David, Musician’s Friend (now the Guitar Center), Hearts and Vines Foundation, MedEx (Medical Express), White Oak Development and Investments, the Klamath Orthopedic Clinic, the Providence Hospital Foundation, West Coast Timber. "He's a very sweet, charming man," Genise said. "He's volunteered with so many great organizations, like CASA and Community Works. That shows me where his heart is. "He's only pushed one show, and that was 'Spamelot.' We had a couple people on the board who tried to tell me what shows to do, and that doesn't work. That's my job." 

Reach Medford freelance writer Bill Varble at varble.bill@gmail.com.