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There’s a big change at the top of one of San Diego’s biggest theaters: Lou Spisto, the man at the helm of The Old Globe for the last nine years, announced Monday he’s leaving at the end of the year.

With Spisto’s departure, general manager Michael Murphy will assume the post of interim managing director.

That move could be more than musical chairs for the Globe, said North County Times theater critic Pam Kragen. Theater companies often balance leadership between a business-minded managing director and an artistic director. Spisto was on that business side, as executive producer and CEO, and he’s been running the theater without an artistic director since 2009. His departure might signal that the company will return to the leadership structure that sustained it for most of its history,” Kragen said.

More from Kragen:

Artistic directors Craig Noel and Jack O’Brien led the company, successively, for more than seven decades with the help of a managing director.

And here’s more on the timing of Spisto’s departure, from the Union-Tribune’s Jim Hebert:

The theater found itself uncomfortably in the spotlight two months ago when it was reported that the would-be star of its revival of “Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show” had pleaded guilty in 2008 to two misdemeanors involving sexual encounters with a teen-age girl seven years earlier. Amid the resulting publicity, both the actor and the show’s director eventually were replaced. Spisto said that situation was unrelated to his decision to leave, which he said he had been considering since last year.

Lyric Opera San Diego, the musical theater company that owns the Birch North Park Theatre, announced it is filing for bankruptcy. Theater representatives said the company has received insufficient donations and ticket sales, and has been stumbling under a hefty mortgage payment for the refurbished theater, which it bought in 2006. (U-T)


You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.

Made in San Diego, or Made by San Diegans:

• The rogue mosaic “Surfing Madonna” brought together the Encinitas community. But that surprised its creator, according to an overview of the controversy from The Atlantic:

“My intention was that the art would just blend into the environment,” [artist Mark Patterson] says. “One of the people in the city government said to me, ‘You’ve managed to wake up the people who never act or never speak or possibly never even vote.’ And I thought, ‘What an interesting concept’ — that a piece of art under a train bridge could create that kind of awakening.”

• Marty Wollesen loves art! And exclamation points! He says the punctuation helps him remember, when working on his ArtPower! concert and art performance series at UCSD, that “we’re engaged in exciting work.” (U-T)

• UCSD visual art professor Rubén Ortiz-Torres will discuss artwork he made during his time as a 20-something in the 1980s Mexico City punk scene during a “Culture and Cocktails” event Thursday at the San Diego Museum of Art. The artwork can be seen through Nov. 6. (U-T)

Update: An earlier version of this post said an exhibit of Rubén Ortiz-Torres’ art is opening this weekend, but it’s actually already open. I’m sorry for the mistake.

Happening Here

• We’ve continued to dive into two shows at local museums about San Diego and Southern California art in the decades following World War II, the two San Diego tentacles of a massive Getty exhibition.

First catch up on the dichotomy between the types of art in the two shows by watching our short video peek and chats with both shows’ curators in the week’s episode of Behind the Scene TV. Then see if you agree with one of our reader’s perspectives: “The local shows are strong examples of our continuing place in the creation and collection of California art.”


And check out how two East Coast newspapers swiped at the effort, calling the exhibition boosterism. (New York Times and Wall Street Journal)

• The stories of the craftspeople involved in San Diego’s mid-century design and craft movement have become an obsession for curator Dave Hampton, who put together the Mingei Museum’s show. (CityBeat)

• One of those craftspeople was “surfboard pioneer” Carl Ekstrom, also an artist whose work is on display in the Mingei show. (KPBS)

• Breaking ground on the renovation of eight more buildings, the foundation that oversees the arts, culture and nonprofit district in Point Loma’s former Naval Training Center says the project is the “largest historic preservation project and cultural facilities project underway in Southern California.”


• A coalition of arts and culture groups is worried about losing its spot for its prominent ticket-selling booth in Horton Plaza, a downtown fixture for more than 20 years. Downtown planners are suggesting the group try to find some space in the Balboa Theatre to sell tickets from.


• Among a list of discretionary grants, County Supervisor Bill Horn gave $10,000 to a musical therapy program for active-duty military members and their families called Resounding Joy. (NCT)

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Kelly Bennett is the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach her directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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