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Originally published September 5, 2013 at 12:16 AM | Page modified September 5, 2013 at 5:44 AM

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Benjamin Moore will leave top Seattle Rep post in 2014

Seattle Repertory Theatre has announced that Benjamin Moore plans to end his 28-year stint as managing director next June but will continue to work on behalf of the theater.

Seattle Times theater critic

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After 28 years guiding the Seattle Repertory Theatre, managing director Benjamin Moore will leave his post when his current contract ends June 30.

Moore, a stabilizing and widely respected force at Seattle’s flagship playhouse, said he’ll continue working in the arts on local and national projects, and hopes to help raise funds for improvements to the Rep’s 30-year-old Bagley Wright Theatre.

The Seattle Rep board of directors has formed a search committee to find Moore’s successor, and will be aided by the arts headhunting firm of Connecticut-based Management Consultants for the Arts.

“Ben’s accomplishments at the Rep have been countless,” said board Chair Shauna Woods in a prepared statement. “During his tenure, he secured Seattle Rep’s position as one of the most financially stable arts organizations in the country, spearheaded a successful multimillion-dollar endowment campaign, and oversaw the fundraising and construction of the Leo K. Theatre.”

Moore has also been a high-profile advocate for the arts on many fronts. He served as chairman of the Seattle Arts Commission, a board member of Theatre Communications Group and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and a site visitor and panel member for the National Endowment for the Arts.

“To leave the Rep in a good position is something I always wanted to do,” Moore said in an interview this week. “This is about a perfect moment for that. It just seemed like the right time.”

Moore joined the Rep as managing director in 1985, after 15 years with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre. In Seattle, he worked closely with then-Rep artistic head Daniel Sullivan as the theater raised its national profile by nurturing new plays that went to Broadway, and earning a 1990 Tony Award for regional theater excellence.

Sullivan departed the Rep during completion of the $10 million Leo K., a complement to the larger Bagley Wright space, and Moore went on to work alongside Sullivan’s successors, Sharon Ott and David Esbjornson.

Moore said he pondered resigning a few years ago but stayed to manage the challenging transition after Esbjornson’s abrupt departure at the end of the 2008-09 season. As revenues and funding dipped during the recent recession, Moore kept the Rep solvent with budget cuts and staff layoffs.

Moore calls his partnership with current artistic head Jerry Manning over the past five years one of his most rewarding periods at the Rep. “Working with Dan (Sullivan) was so special for me, but I’ve never had a better, more balanced working relationship than I’ve had with Jerry,” he said. “My time here has been a really interesting journey, and I’ve enjoyed very much this last lap around the course.”

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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