Roughly 15 years ago, Tim Pistell was a long way from home. His duties at Parker Hannifin, a motion and control technologies manufacturer, had sent him to England for five years.
During that same time, Great Lakes Theater Festival was a critically successful but financially stagnant theater group working out of the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square.
That these two paths would cross stemmed from a simple request: A friend of Pistell’s, who just so happened to serve as president of GLTF at the time, asked if he would join the board upon his return stateside. Pistell, who is also active in the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, was more than happy to oblige.
“Theater has always been something that my wife and I love, so it was sort of a perfect fit,” he says.
It wasn’t long before Pistell helped the board and staff complete an updated strategic plan that stressed long-term success and sustainability.
More importantly, he helped GLTF get its finances in order. “Back in those days, the financial statements weren’t always received on a timely basis, and there wasn’t necessarily a high degree of credibility,” Pistell says. “We were having a hard time making money.”
Now, statements are timely, credible and accurate, and GLTF has generated a surplus for five consecutive years.
Pistell hopes to continue that success with the recently announced “Re-Imagine a Classic: A New Home at the Hanna Theatre” campaign.
As chair of this capital campaign, he will oversee the transformation of the Hanna Theatre into the new official home of GLTF. Plans call for a complete restoration and renovation of the space, which will eventually downsize the number of seats while implementing a thrust stage to create a more optimal setting for dramas and plays.
If everything goes as planned, the opening of the reimagined theater should coincide with the start of GLTF’s 2008 fall season.
“Cleveland has some real crown jewels to attract people and retain them,” Pistell says. “We think we can be one of them.”
HOW TO REACH: Great Lakes Theater Festival, (216) 241-5490 or www.greatlakestheater.org