Broadway Grand Rapids director to retire

Mike Lloyd. Courtesy Broadway Grand Rapids

After over a decade of leadership, the executive director of Broadway Grand Rapids (BGR) is stepping down.

Mike Lloyd will be retiring on Dec. 31, exactly 12 years after he took the position. He said it is “the perfect moment for new leadership.”

“COVID tested the economic viability of performing arts organizations in large and small communities across the country,” Lloyd said. “It is singular and remarkable that, as we get ready for the first raised curtain in 18 months, Broadway Grand Rapids will match its highest season ticket sales ever.”

Lloyd is credited for turning around the organization when it was over $1 million in debt, season tickets were down, and its shows were overlooked during tours. Through the support of Michigan State University’s Wharton Center, Lloyd was able to grow its ticket base and corporate sponsorships support.

“(The) turning point occurred when the governance board overseeing DeVos Performance Hall changed the hall scheduling policy to give Broadway Grand Rapids equal rights to calendar dates for performances,” Lloyd said. “The first 20 years plus of DeVos Hall operations, the Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids Ballet and Opera Grand Rapids were all accommodated first, before BGR could seek dates. The policy change set up the first opportunity for a multiple-week run. ‘Phantom of the Opera,; which had been touring for 25 years finally came to Grand Rapids in 2016. It sold out wall to wall. The Broadway world was astounded, and we never looked back. Subsequently, the major mega-blockbuster shows ‘Wicked,’ ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Hamilton’ all booked multi-week engagements in Grand Rapids.”

In 2019, Lloyd negotiated a partnership with Broadway Across America.

“This partnership with the premier organization in the Broadway industry assures the highest quality shows will come to Grand Rapids,” he said.

Lloyd said he is proud of the special program BGR instituted to bring economically disadvantaged students into the theater through the Seats4Kids program, providing an opportunity many would never have considered.

He said he also hopes BGR will continue to offer partnership opportunities to other institutions in the community, like Grand Rapids Community College, Paws with a Cause or the Red Cross, who have raised funds in joint promotions with visiting shows.

“I am stepping down but not away,” Lloyd said. “I won’t walk away from the wonderful Broadway GR staff. I am so proud of our team. Everyone is committed to serving our customers with care and enthusiasm. Noteworthy, too, is the growth and change of the governance board. When I joined, the 10 members were arts enthusiasts who cared about Grand Rapids. But I would say that today’s board is special, maybe unique, in its diversity of backgrounds and interest. The 30-plus members truly represent the best of our community. I cannot thank them enough for the unequivocal support they gave me.”

Broadway Grand Rapids’ Board Vice Chair David Skidmore is leading a search committee to seek Lloyd’s successor.

Broadway Grand Rapids’ season will begin January 2022 with “Hairspray.” “Hamilton” returns to Grand Rapids for two weeks in February, followed by “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Mean Girls” and “Come From Away.”

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