By Andrea Orlando, Community Director
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking voted to install Molly Fortune as a member of the board on Thursday, January 17. Fortune is the Executive Director at the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, South Carolina. She has held this position at the world-renowned performing arts center since September 2015.
She leads a staff that oversees ticketing, programming, marketing, operations and patron engagement and strongly believes that historic buildings anchor economic development and revitalization of America’s downtowns.
Prior to her work in Newberry she was Director of Restoration and Operations at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. The Fox is a fiercely protected landmark and nationally acclaimed theater as well as a multi-purpose performing arts venue which hosts more than 450 events for 780,000 patrons each year. During her tenure at the Fox Theatre, Fortune’s leadership oversaw the departments of production, maintenance and operations, restoration, housekeeping, guest experience, security, tours and information technology. Fortune was influential in the development and implementation of new strategic initiatives such as the Fox Theatre Institute, an outreach and consulting division for which she served as Director of Restoration Consulting. However, her main focus was on the one and only in-house restoration and operations departments of a theater anywhere in the country. Upon her retirement she had been with the Fox for 15 years.
Projects completed under her tenure at the Fox totaled $2.5 million and included the following: carpet re-weaving; handrail installation; ceiling restoration, Landmarks Lounge creation; historic finishes documentation; furniture appraisal; lighting appraisals; organ restoration; lighting restoration and improvements; exterior lighting; and HVAC upgrades. She approached problem solving with an eye towards enhancing the theater-going experience while maintaining the historic integrity of the facility. Her department spent more than $1 million in capital improvements each year.
Prior to her work at the Fox Theatre, Fortune worked for the Department of Defense as a Cultural Resource Specialist in Historic Preservation and Programming for two military installations in the Southeast. She received her bachelor of fine arts in interior design from Converse College; studied architecture at the University of Kansas and received a master of fine arts degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she graduated summa cum laude with distinction. She is a member of Sigma PI Kapa National Preservation Honor Society (both Alpha and Gama Chapters) and Tau SIgma Delta National Honor Society in Building Arts.
Fortune is also President of the League of Historic American Theatres. In addition, she is on the Board of Advisors for the Savannah College of Art and Design and a member of the International Association of Venue Managers Performing Arts Managers. She has held leadership roles within other facility operating, preservation and theater societies. She is also active as a mentor, peer reviewer and guest speaker on the importance of historic buildings as economic drivers for several professional preservation- and museum-oriented organizations and publications.