Geoffrey Kershner, assistant professor of theatre, has been chosen for the “Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture” by National Arts Strategies, which attempts to connect arts and culture to community life.
With the support of The Kresge Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NAS designed the Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture for individuals who lead organizations that use culture to respond to local needs and contribute to healthy neighborhoods.
This one-year program will serve an international group of 50 outstanding CEOs whose organizations work closely with communities. Throughout the program, NAS will help leaders work individually and in groups to broaden their thinking about their environments and how to lead change. The first weeklong session for the group is at Vanderbilt University in October.
Kershner is the founder and artistic director of the Endstation Theatre Company based in Central Virginia. Endstation is the winner of the 2012 Rising Star Award (Virginians for the Arts), the 2013 Best Live Theatre (News and Advance, Reader’s Choice), and the 2014 Cultural Organization Award (James River Council for the Arts and Humanities).
Kershner most recently directed Endstation Theatre Company’s site-specific outdoor productions of Our Town, Taming of the Shrew, Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night. He also directed Endstation’s original productions of The Mind of Poe, The Bluest Water: A Hurricane Camille Story and My Brother’s Knife.
At University of Lynchburg he has directed Love’s Labour’s Lost, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Lillian Likes It and Woyzeck.
In his application for the program, Kershner wrote:
“Theatre brings community together, in a common space, sharing in an experience. This is powerful in a modern age when more and more of us are segregated by technology, which can filter and regulate what voices we hear and what visions of the world we see. I run a theatre company in Lynchburg, Va. This is a divided community. A community divided by politics, religion, culture, and race. I believe through deliberate programming, we can be a part of bridging the divide that exists between so many groups in our community.”
Kershner said he thinks LC theatre students can also be involved in closing the divide through such activities as presenting plays on nutrition in local schools. He said he hopes to get new inspiration through the Chief Executive Program.
“It will be an unbelievable opportunity to draw guidance from other leaders from around the country and from the resources the program will provide,” he said.
“My organization is at an exciting but critical moment of change. We need to be calculated and smart in our actions. I feel the timing of this program is ideal. Just as I head into this crucial strategic planning, I will be dropped into an amazing think tank that will help guide me through this process, providing feedback, guidance, and inspiration.”