Sunday, July 3, 2022

From the Magazine: Take 5 with Diane Quinn

Diane Quinn can pinpoint exactly when she fell in love with the arts. She was in second grade in her native Canada, watching a marionette production of “Pinocchio” from the cheapest seats in Toronto’s historic Royal Alexandra Theatre.

“That particular theater, which is still around today, had a very steep rake,” she recalls. “And I remember being in the first row of the upper balcony, leaning so far over that my teacher came and pushed me back; she thought I was going to fall over.

“And I knew at that moment that’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to be in the arts. It was etched in my brain.”

But in what capacity? Quinn studied acting at the Banff School of the Arts, until she realized “there were a lot better actors than me out there. And so I thought, I’m going to go into directing. There are a lot better directors than me out there. And I ended up being a producer, and starting up a couple of my own theater companies. And that was really the trajectory for the rest of my adult life.”

Quinn would go on to direct Harvard University’s esteemed American Repertory Theater for three years. Most recently, she spent 17 years with Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group; as chief creative officer, she oversaw the tragic layoffs of 2020 as well as the brand’s triumphant post-COVID recovery.

She assumed the role of Kravis Center CEO in January 2022, becoming the organization’s second such executive in the past two years, following the short-lived tenure of Terence W. Dwyer. The timing and location, she says, couldn’t have been a better fit.

How is it that you ended up here?

I was very lucky. A few years ago I was looking to go on a fitness boot camp … to take some of the stress out of my system. And I found a place in Delray Beach. And I loved Delray Beach, and I started to come to this part of the world annually, and my husband and I bought a house in Delray Beach. However, I was in Montreal, and he was working on a project here in Miami. So the impetus is, I was not living in the same country, or under the same roof, as my husband. And that’s why it was time to leave Cirque. I reopened more than 80 percent of [the Cirque productions]. So I also felt like I could leave feeling very proud of what I was able to accomplish.

What do you believe the Kravis Center does really well right now?

I would talk about the amazing team; I’m doing something called Coffee with Quinn weekly. The team is bright, energetic, really committed to the organization. And then the second thing is the facility itself. I had not been here previously. When I first came to the Center, I was really impressed: size, scope, the quality of the facilities. And the third thing is the support we get from the community. We have incredibly generous donors and a very committed board of directors.

Have you pinpointed areas where the Kravis Center could improve?

There’s always room for improvement everywhere. As I look to the changing face of the community, the changing demographics and growth of the entire county, that gives us a great opportunity in terms of new audience development, which allows us to look at programming in an expanded way. We have some new folks in our programming team. We’ve been working together to see how we can make sure that we are servicing an ever-growing population with a variety of interests, and our programming needs to reflect that.

Do you have any specific changes in programming in mind, looking ahead to the next season?

The one thing I will say without giving it away, because we haven’t announced the programming yet for next season—and of course we want to make a big splash when we do that—is to make sure we’re covering all genres. I think our Broadway programming has been very successful. Our classical music programming has been successful. And now is a big opportunity to look at areas in addition to those. Where are we with spoken word; where are we with comedy? There’s a great opportunity to expand the breadth and reach of that, and to make sure everyone is welcome.

In terms of how the sausage is made, is there an aspect of running an arts organization like the Kravis that might surprise people?

We like to make sure that the magic is on the stage. However, I would like to say that a big part of that magic actually happens backstage. It’s something people don’t normally get a chance to see. And when you walk into a facility and it’s clean and organized and well-run backstage, you know you’re at a world-class facility. I’ve been in places where that’s not the case, and I can honestly say that our facility is first-class because of everything that’s on the stage and behind the scenes.

This story is from the May/June 2022 issue of Boca magazine. For more like this, click here to subscribe to the magazine.

John Thomason
As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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