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Facility Manager Takes Starring Role In Keeping Theater Open

Katrina Sturtzen, facility director, Schauer Arts Center, encourages women to speak up and be heard

Credit: Ariel Kassulke Photography

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the arts and entertainment industry, despite the fact that people relied on them heavily to get them through the early days of the pandemic. Concerts and other performances were postponed and eventually canceled for most of 2020 to late 2021, leaving many theater employees urging the general public to help “save their stages.”

No one knows this feeling more than Katrina Sturtzen, facility director, Schauer Arts Center located in Hartford, Wisconsin. Throughout the shutdown, the Schauer Center made the leap to convert an unused outdoor courtyard space into a new outdoor venue. Sturtzen served as a project manager on the renovation, coordinating construction contractors, creating a design plan for theatrical lighting and sound, ordering and more while staying on budget.

Even though the theater was closed to the general public, maintenance had to occur throughout that time so that nothing when awry when audiences were welcomed back.

“The facility position at Schauer became a priority position because of the pandemic,” says Sturtzen. “Schauer was one of the many performing arts centers that was closed for months in 2020, however, the facility manager was one that was kept on a regular basis to continue monitoring building and facility needs even though there were no other staff or patrons. When the area recovered and people were slowly welcomed back, the building needed to be ready for them.”

There is an extreme level of detail that goes into live theatrical performances. Being able to pay attention to detail while keeping the big picture in mind is a crucial aspect for directors and set designers — but it’s also important for the facility manager. Although facility management wasn’t a career path Sturtzen chose, her skills suit the industry well.

“Over the last 15 years, I have come to appreciate facility management and do enjoy certain aspects of my current responsibilities, such as those challenges that test my creative mind and coming up with a working solution or organizing a schedule,” Sturtzen says.



 
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