Spokane Civic Theatre hires new artistic director

TUESDAY, FEB. 11, 2014, 3:50 P.M.

Keith Dixon, currently the managing artistic director at Theatre Baton Rouge, has been hired as the new artistic director for the Spokane Civic Theatre.

Dixon, 40, will take over the role full-time in June after a few months of transition. He will be visiting Spokane to get to know people before then, Dixon said. “Obviously the rest of this season is taken care of and being handled very well,” he said.

Theatre Baton Rouge is a community theater group with a main stage and a studio, much like the the Civic. Dixon said he enjoyed his 10 years in Baton Rouge but is excited to live in the Inland Northwest. “I was not looking for the next job,” he said. “I was looking for the right one. I feel like this is the right one.”

Dixon said he plans to spend time meeting the community, volunteers and patrons before creating his vision for the future of the Civic Theatre. He said he likes to present compelling, entertaining stories on stage. “I see myself as a storyteller,” he said. “I love telling a good story on stage, whether that’s a musical or a play or a drama or a comedy.”

Dixon replaces Yvonne A. K. Johnson, who was fired from her job as Civic’s artistic director in July only a month after she received high praise in an employee evaluation and a $7,000 bonus. The controversial firing by a board of directors under new leadership resulted in Johnson filing a lawsuit against the theater.

Dixon said he is aware of what happened to Johnson but had good experiences during a trip to Spokane. “I see an opportunity here for an organization that has a long history,” he said. “I feel very comfortable with where I’m going and the organization itself.”

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