Near Cool Springs, The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, TN announced on Friday the choice of Steven J. Greil, a real estate agent with Zeitlin and Co., Realtors and also one of Tennessee’s most well known arts executives and events producers, as the new managing director of the historic Franklin Theatre.
Greil, former head of the TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center), The Nashville Symphony, and a 15-year veteran of the music industry, will over see the Franklin Theatre’s restoration, lead the Main Street landmark into its start-up phase, and then manage day-to-day operations. Following the restoration, the theater is to operate as a 350-seat film, music and event venue, and anchor downtown Franklin’s ongoing revitalization.
“Steven’s integrity, his management experience in the arts, and his passion for film, music and live entertainment, make him the perfect fit for this job,” said David Garrett, president of the Heritage Foundation. “We’re pleased that he’s going to lead the re-emergence of the Franklin Theatre, and we’re grateful for the community’s continued trust and confidence in this exciting project.”
Greil’s selection caps a multi-month executive search led by the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Nonprofit Management. The foundation’s board of directors unanimously chose Greil based on his long track record leading high-profile arts and entertainment venues, building community support, and overseeing complex capital-renovation projects.
Greil served as president and CEO of TPAC from 1994 to 2005. Prior to leading TPAC, he was executive director of the Nashville Symphony Association. More recently, Greil worked as a marketing and event-management consultant and was one of the producers of August Wilson’s final play, Radio Golf, on Broadway in New York. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University.
“I am excited to join the team at The Heritage Foundation in bringing back the historic Franklin Theatre,” Greil said. “Going back to its historic name signifies that we will be much more than a cinema. I believe the Franklin Theatre will be ‘the hub’ of the arts in Williamson County. “Middle Tennessee is blessed with a fantastic arts community. We hope we will become ‘the little sister’ to the major arts institutions in Nashville like TPAC, The Nashville Symphony, Nashville Ballet, Nashville Opera, the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, and the many other excellent theater companies and performing arts groups.”
Greil said he is excited about the Heritage Foundation’s commitment to install premium sound, lighting and projection systems in the renovated facility.
“All of the artists and musicians that make Middle Tennessee and Williamson County their homes are going to be able to play with ‘the best and the newest toys’ of their craft at the Franklin Theatre,” Greil said.
The Franklin Theatre opened in 1937 and enjoyed a continuous run as Main Street’s movie theater until rising property values forced a significant rent increase in 2007. Also, the building had deteriorated and needed a complete restoration. The Heritage Foundation embarked on a major fundraising campaign lead by Emily Magid, Cal Turner and the Martin Foundation and raised more than $6 million to purchase and renovate the two buildings. Construction work is well underway with a projected opening date in spring 2011. Greil will be working in the Heritage Foundation’s offices at the Five Points Post Office until the Franklin Theatre construction is complete.
“I look forward to working and playing with a whole new group of arts patrons and community minded citizens,” Greil said. “The citizens of Franklin and Williamson County have already demonstrated their commitment to historic preservation and to downtown vitality. The Franklin Theatre will bring the lights back on Main Street and become a new cultural destination for all of middle Tennessee, and hopefully the World.”
The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County is a 43-year-old nonprofit association with the mission to protect and preserve the architectural, geographic and cultural resources of Franklin and Williamson County and continue the revitalization of downtown Franklin in the context of historic preservation.