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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Smyrna Opera House introduces new managing director, programming director

  • Following the unexpected resignation of Smyrna Opera House's Executive Director Bernadette Sahm at the end of May, the SOH board of directors decided to tap former board member Robin Bruner to run things.
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  • Following the unexpected resignation of Smyrna Opera House’s Executive Director Bernadette Sahm at the end of May, the SOH board of directors decided to tap former board member Robin Bruner to run things. She had to get to work quickly, though, and started back in June.
    With Sahm gone, the board decided to also modify the position. Now, instead of an executive director, the Opera House will operate with two positions: a part-time managing director and a part-time programming director.
    The programing position was filled Monday when Bruner announced that she and the board of directors hired former intern Amber Frushon.
    For Bruner, her new role is a chance to bring all of her SOH experience full circle. Her first job was producing a fashion show back in 2001. From 2002 to 2005, she served on the board of directors before stepping down to focus on her responsibilities as president and vice president of the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association.  Many members also likely remember her years as Cotillion chairperson or co-chairperson in 2009 and 2011.
     “I love the building, I love what it represents and I love all its possibilities as a town arts center,” Bruner said. “And, even though I wasn’t one of the charter members, I was a part of the early group who got things going. I really want to bring back the passion that was present back then and get people excited. There’s so much we can do.”
    Bruner also had a considerable amount to say about Frushon. As the new programming director, Frushon’s duties will include marketing, advertising and an expansion of the events offered specifically for teens and young adults.
    “Amber has filled many behind-the-scenes roles here,” Bruner said. “To be honest, she’s kind-of grown up here. Now that she’s in college at the University of Delaware and studying marketing and event planning, she’s become a vital part of our team. She has a lot of great ideas and a real passion for the Opera House.”
    Bruner also has a lot of ideas. Right now, her focus is on membership. The renewal period began on July 1 and she’s working to get notices out. She added that building the volunteer base, cultivating a culture of SOH passion and revamping their fundraising strategies are almost on her long list of things to tackle immediately.
    “I really want to get people interested in maintaining the opera house as a community arts center,” she said. “We’re so fortunate to have this building and this community of caring people. I want to expand that and remind people that this place can get in your blood. I just want to re-energize everybody.”
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