Rahn Hutcheson has been named to the permanent job of executive director of the Averitt Center for the Arts after serving six months as interim executive director.
The Jan. 21 decision by the Averitt Center’s board was unanimous, its president, Trish Tootle, reported. Taking Hutcheson’s interim service as a trial period, the nonprofit, Statesboro-based arts organization did not conduct a search for a new director. Board members recognized the work Hutcheson previously did as deputy director and continues to do, she said.
“We are a community arts center, we’re community theater, and everything about him is community,” Tootle said. “He sweeps the sidewalk, he serves popcorn at the performances, and he also does budgets and manages all of our staff. So he just does it all, and he does it with motivation and encouragement, and I just think he can lead our center to be better and better.”
Hutcheson served in the interim role since late July, following the departure of the previous executive director, Jamie Oliver, who had been hired in May 2017 after a national search. It was Oliver who promoted Hutcheson to deputy director in 2017. He had joined the Averitt Center staff as development director in 2016.
The Averitt Center operates the Emma Kelly Theater and Main Gallery on East Main Street, the Roxie Remley Center for Fine Arts on Vine Street and the Center for Performing Arts on West Main Street. In addition to hosting performances, the organization provides working and exhibition spaces to artists, offers classes for children, youth and adults and hosts after-school programs and summer day-camps.
“First and foremost, I’m very honored and humbled to be given this opportunity,” Hutcheson said. “For the past six months I’ve been the interim executive director, and there has been a big learning curve for me in all facets of our arts program: visual arts and dance and theater, music. I’ve learned a lot, but there’s still a lot to learn.”
Although relatively new to the arts as such, Hutcheson has extensive experience in fundraising, marketing and public relations, all in Statesboro.
He continues with a leadership team at the Averitt that includes Tony Phillips as educational programs director, Robert Faller as production manager and technical director, Kim Riner as visual arts director, Taylor Ellen as dance program director and Robert Cottle as executive artistic associate.
“The Averitt Center is the downtown, artistic hub of Statesboro, and we feel very pleased to provide our patrons with top-quality arts education and entertainment opportunities,” Hutcheson said.
His other roles
Before coming to the Averitt Center, he served as director of institutional development for Bulloch Academy, the largest private school in Statesboro, for almost 20 years, beginning in 1996. In the late 1980s and early 90s, he was public relations director for Bulloch County’s public school system.
Hutcheson has also been affiliated with the Statesboro Herald, as a contributor and at times a staff member, for more than 30 years. After starting work for the newspaper while in college, he served as its regional news director for several years and continued reporting on sports, especially high school sports, while employed by the schools.
At his church, Friendship Baptist, he is a deacon, sings in the choir and teaches a Sunday school class for high school students.
He also has an almost 30-year side career as an official with the Southern Eagle Baseball and Softball Officials Association and is a member of its board of directors.
A 1981 graduate of Portal High School, Hutcheson in 1985 received his bachelor’s degree, in communication arts with an emphasis in public relations, from Georgia Southern College, before it became a university.
“My team and I are currently looking at different amateur and professional acts to bring to the Emma Kelly Theater and the Whitaker Black Box Theater,” Hutcheson said when asked about plans for future performances.
The Averitt Center will hold its annual meeting in June, inviting everyone in the community to see and hear both a recap of the past year and a preview of the upcoming season, Tootle said.