Meet Howard Levine—State Theatre New Jersey's Executive Vice President!
Posted on 01/08/2020
Congratulations to Howard Levine, who was our Vice President of Marketing & Guest Services and has added our Development Department to his list of responsibilities and became our Executive Vice President of Marketing & Development. Like many people here on the State Theatre staff, Howard has had a very interesting career in the arts. A part of the State Theatre family since 2016, Howard worked for one of the most well-renowned cultural centers in New York City. We recently sat down with Howard to talk about his career, his family's passion for the arts, and what led him to the State Theatre.
Q: Congratulations on your new role as Executive Vice President! Tell us about your new position.
A: Thanks. My new role as Executive Vice President of Marketing & Development combines all the departments (Guest Services, Marketing, and Development/Fundraising) responsible for engagement and interaction with our guests and patrons into one unified structure. Many non-profit organizations often fall into the trap of thinking about their patrons by department—where a donor is somehow different from a ticket buyer and a ticket buyer is different from a community member. In reality our patrons are donors, ticket buyers, and community members—and it’s a disservice to not fully understand and appreciate the depth and breadth of these multi-faceted relationships. It’s vital for us to recognize and understand how to develop and deepen these relationships over time. This is a primary focus in my new role and has been a guiding principle throughout my career. I strongly believe that our most important mission as a performing arts center is to build strong relationships with our patrons and allow them to fully experience the magic of live performing arts. Whether this is for a long-time, actively engaged, patron or someone just starting out, experiencing a live performance for the first time—our goal is to understand where each patron is in their arts journey and engage with them at their specific level.
Q: You have had a long career in the arts. You joined the State Theatre team in 2016, tell us about the career path that led you here.
A: I graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Advertising and Design. My first job after college was as a graphic designer at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. As a designer for a theater/performing arts center, I quickly grasped the concept that our patrons were multi-faceted with a wide array of interests and connections to the theater. After a few years, I became their Art Director, increasing my responsibilities. At McCarter, I had the honor of working on world-premiere productions as well as dance, music, and comedy shows. I decided to leave McCarter after nine years to stretch my wings and continue my career growth. I became the Creative Director at 92nd Street Y (92Y), a world-renowned cultural and arts center in New York City.
When I arrived at 92Y, it was a very large organization made up of eight different programming centers. These centers had little interaction with each other and each felt that their attendees were unique to their center. Unfortunately, the organization had several ticket and database systems that did not talk to each other and it was very hard to get a true grasp on interactions with our patrons. I was able to convince 92Y’s visionary leadership that we had to unify these systems or we would never be able to understand and engage with our patrons. Long story short, I led the process of unifying our data and changed the focus of marketing efforts to be data driven and to understand our patrons' connections and journey within the institution. My role at 92Y continued to expand over the years, from Creative Director in charge of many designers; to head of Creative and Digital in charge of all design, online, and social media efforts; to eventually leading one of their newest program centers in charge of all digital programming opening up 92Y’s vast 100+ year performance archive to digital streaming. Throughout my entire career at 92Y I remained hyper-focused on ensuring we were always able to understand and connect with our patrons at their level of engagement within the organization, including those patrons that were now engaging with us virtually through the online world. After 16 years in over five different roles, I eventually felt it was time to move on and get back to my roots in performing arts and theater. That’s when I heard through the arts community about a re-organization taking place at State Theatre New Jersey. The theater was looking for a patron focused Senior Director of Marketing who could help unite marketing and fundraising efforts and help unify the patron experience. And that’s what led me to State Theatre.
Q: How did you first become interested in the arts?
A: I grew up in a family that loved the arts and attended theater and music performances regularly. My parents were both involved in community theater and as a child I used to help in their community theater with sets, behind the scenes, etc. My parents shared their passion for the arts with me and I have them to thank for ensuring that I grew up understanding how important culture and art are to our well-being and the well-being of our communities.
Q: What have been some of your most memorable State Theatre moments so far? And what have been some of your favorite State Theatre performers?
A: I love working at State Theatre New Jersey. As a performing arts center, we bring in some of the best Broadway shows, world-renowned orchestras, musicians, dancers, and artists. When I walk into our theater I can physically feel the magic that has taken place in that space for almost 100 years. When I look at the excitement and awe on the faces of children coming from a local school during a student matinee—perhaps experiencing the arts and theater for the first time—I am reminded of how powerful a moment that is and that the work we do here is so vital to our community.
On a personal note, I love that I can be rocking out to Melissa Etheridge or John Mellencamp, laughing with John Mulaney, engrossed in the rock opera RENT, or feeling the true power of a full orchestra, like the Royal Philharmonic, fill our hall with awe inspiring music. All under our one roof!
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
A: If you work in the arts, you feel its passion, and I am privileged to be able to work with so many passionate and dedicated staff at the theater.
Q: What are you looking forward to in the State Theatre's future for 2020 and beyond?
A: Our theater, as beautiful as it is, is in need of an upgrade in its facilities in order to better serve our community. I am energized to be able to play a role in ensuring that we will be able to move forward with these needed upgrades which will allow us to serve even more patrons in the coming years and let them experience the power of live entertainment right here in New Brunswick!