Denver Center for the Performing Arts names new CEO and president

Scott Schiller
Scott Schiller, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' new president and CEO.

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts' board of trustees on Thursday named an arts executive from the Miami area as its next president and CEO.

Scott Shiller has been executive vice president of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami since 2007. He'll take over at DCPA for Daniel Ritchie, who will relinquish his role as CEO but will continue as chair of the board of trustees.

“I am extremely excited to be a part of, learn from and contribute to the DCPA’s next evolution as it connects artists and audiences together," Shiller said.

The DCPA spent about four months searching for Ritchie's replacement and considered more than 100 applicants from around the country and beyond. The organization interviewed seven finalists, including Shiller, who will begin his tenure in Denver on May 1.

The incoming president and CEO said he has closely followed the DCPA's efforts and its growing reputation nationwide.

"In fact in Miami, with a lot of the presenting work that we’ve done and the establishment of our own regional theater company, it was all based on the model that I saw in Denver," he said.

Shiller added that the audience numbers at DCPA -- 800,000 visitors last season compared to 500,000 at Miami's Arsht Center -- also drew him to the opportunity. He also pointed to distinctive programs like the Colorado New Play Summit and the Women's Voices Fund.

"I think that the Denver Center has an obligation and responsibility to be a part of the national conversation," Shiller said. "So both bringing the best work from around the nation to Denver but also starting work at the DCPA and having it seen by audiences throughout the country."

Ritchie, who announced his retirement as CEO in June, said Shiller is joining the DCPA at a "pivotal time."

“Following an extensive analysis of our priorities, our emphasis will be on deepening and enriching relationships with our entire community," Ritchie said. "Scott’s leadership will enable me to focus on board matters and reauthorization of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District in 2016.”

The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District is a voter-approved tax that funds many arts organizations in the Denver metro area. It's up for a vote again in 2016.

“It’s a little like being the grandfather instead of the father, so I’m looking forward to this,” Ritchie said. “My role is to support him, help him and introduce him. And then to get out of the way, not to run the place and micromanage.”

In his first year at the Arsht Center, Shiller's efforts contributed to a $3.3 million turnaround with a 76 percent increase in attendance.

Ritchie said that experience and success helped Shiller stand out as the DCPA's top candidate.

“What he did there was starting from scratch, and he did a remarkable job,” Ritchie said. "Miami is a very multicultural place, and we are increasingly here in Denver too. He has demonstrated his ability to reach out to all of the constituents there and to engage with them and to respond to them."

John Richard, the Arsht’s president and CEO, told The Herald that Shiller has a forward-thinking style.

“I’m so proud of him ... He’s been the master of invention here,” Richard told The Herald. “His fingerprints are all over the center. He is a superstar, and Denver has made a very wise decision.”

Shiller will remain in Miami until April, according to The Herald.

CPR News digital producer Nathaniel Minor contributed to this report.