Renaissance Theatre: Changes Coming At The Top

Outgoing CEO of Renaissance Performing Arts, Michael Miller.Photo: Jeff Sprang


After a long and successful tenure, Renaissance Performing Arts Association CEO Michael Miller has announced that he will be transitioning to new endeavors this summer. Miller, who first became involved with the Renaissance in 2002 as a member of its Board of Directors, is leaving the organization to pursue new opportunities to promote the growth and long-term sustainability of the Imagination District, a downtown arts district that celebrates imagination through play, education, and live performance.

Since getting his start in the industry at the age of 6, Michael Miller has been involved in professional arts in some capacity, whether onstage, backstage, in the sound booth, or in administration. By the age of 12, he had debuted at The Kennedy Center, New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. He attended the College of Wooster and The Florida State University as a musical theater major and graduated from The Recording Workshop, as a recording engineer in 1982. He moved to New York City in 1983 and became the Vice-President of Soundprism Creative Services, Inc., and later the owner of MCM Productions, production companies that designed and programmed Electronic Music Mapping Systems for several Broadway shows including Chess, City of Angels, and Les Miserables in Paris. In 1993 he moved to Los Angeles and became the chief engineer of Sticky Notes, LLC., where he produced and engineered music for many films and television shows, including Party of Five, The Five Mrs. Buchannan's and The Crew. Mr. Miller returned to Mansfield in 1996 to raise his family with wife Deborah, and has been President of Miller's Diamond Jewelry, a 60 year old family business, since that time.

While serving on the Board of Directors for the Renaissance during a period of significant challenges, Miller was asked to step in to lead the organization as its President & CEO in January 2010. His combination of successful business owner and dedicated performing arts supporter, especially in the Mansfield community, has always given him a unique understanding and appreciation for the Renaissance, and he accepted the challenge wholeheartedly. Partnering with Board Chairman Rand Smith, Mr. Miller helped restore the organization’s financial condition and establish a strong team of Renaissance directors and employees. In 2017, Michael Miller worked with Fred Boll, Buckeye Imagination Museum Executive Director, to launch the Imagination District campaign, a $6.5 million collaborative capital campaign to establish the Imagination District, a project which has now successfully renovated two defunct buildings along Park Avenue West to house the Ren’s Theatre 166 black box venue and the new Buckeye Imagination Museum, opening to the public on August 10th.

“Mike’s leadership not only strengthened theater operations,” commented current Renaissance Board Chair Jason Painley, “but also established a strategic direction that will enable the Renaissance to continue to be recognized regionally, and nationally, for excellence in the performing arts. We extend Mike a sincere ‘thank you’ for his many years of visionary service.”

With the Renaissance now in its best position since its inception, Miller states that he’s “ready for his next adventure!” Absorbing Miller’s CEO duties as he moves on in August is Renaissance President, Chelsie Thompson. Thompson has served in the President role since 2018, having held prior positions as Director of Operations and Symphony & Education Manager since she started with the organization in 2010. She holds an MBA and a Master of the Arts in Arts Administration from the University of Cincinnati’s Lindner College of Business and College-Conservatory of Music, respectively, as well as a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Performance (French horn). Thompson had previously gained experience working under the Executive Directors of BalletMet Columbus, Jazz Arts Group/Columbus Jazz Orchestra, and the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts before transitioning to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, working as its Youth Orchestra Coordinator for two years before moving home to Mansfield, where she had originally started her “performance career” with the Mansfield Symphony Youth Orchestra as a student at Hillsdale High School.

“The Renaissance wouldn’t be what it is today without Mike’s contributions to our growth and long-term vision,” said Thompson regarding the move. “He is truly a credit to this organization’s success, and we have no doubts that the positive impact that he always brought to the Ren and our team will be felt in the greater community for years to come.”

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