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Goff Bows Out at Annenberg Center

After 22 years as managing director of the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Stephen Goff, Ar'62, has resigned. He will remain at the helm until a new managing director can be found.
   The University had recently completed a six-month evaluation of the center, and according to Dr. Stanley Chodorow, the provost, it will begin a three-year reorganization process to address "some of the vexing national issues facing funding for the arts in America as well as those specific to our situation" in Philadelphia. The news release announcing Goff's resignation noted that the center has had operational deficits in six of the last eight years, despite an average contribution by the University of $1.2 million. Revenues have declined 16 percent while expenses have risen by 13 percent.
   Goff told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he felt the center was "being downsized," and added: "I figure I've been here so long I don't really feel I'm the one who wants to go along with that ... I had the option to resign, so I decided to."
   Chodorow praised Goff for having "made an invaluable contribution to the Annenberg Center," as well as to Penn and to the "growth of the performing arts in this community." He added that the reorganization will make "every effort to leverage" the center's strengths -- citing student performances, dance, and children's theater -- as the "foundation for an exciting, contemporary program mix" that will include concerts, film series, and lectures as well as outside companies. "Our goal will be to secure the Center's future as one of the area's premier resources for the performing arts for generations to come," he said.
   Chodorow also told the Inquirer that "We need to support the coexistence of student theater, which is very important, and the kind of professional productions we have traditionally had, but we need to do it on a basis that is fiscally sound."
   That will not be easy. "It's a tough time all over for the arts," said Goff. "Funding is down; the NEA is almost gone; corporate funding is getting harder to obtain. In our case, we've lost income from the demise of the Philadelphia Drama Guild and also the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays." The loss of the Drama Guild, he said, was a particularly tough blow, since it was a "major part of our operation here."
   During Goff's tenure as managing director -- he was a member of the staff when it opened in 1971 -- the center offered some impressive performances. Actors such as Jason Robards and Glenn Close, playwrights such as Athol Fugard and August Wilson, and composers such as Philip Glass all came to the center to share their art with Philadelphia. The International Theatre Festival for Children, founded at the center in 1983, was considered among the best of its kind in the world.
   Asked for the most memorable event held at the center, Goff said: "There isn't any one thing I'd pick. I'm more proud of the variety of programming we've done, the leadership role we've taken."
   Performances scheduled for the 1997-98 season, including Actors from the London Stage's production of Measure for Measure on October 29 and October 31, will go on as planned.

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Copyright 1997 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 9/26/97