Tom Hoch, longtime boss of Minneapolis’ Broadway playhouses, is stepping down, the organization said Thursday.
He will leave his post as president and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust in mid-2017, after a replacement is named.
Hoch, who will turn 62 on Nov. 19, said it was time to try something new. “The trust is in great shape and things are moving along at a good clip,” he said.
Under his leadership, the trust greatly expanded its scope beyond that of a traditional arts entity, creating and branding a downtown entertainment district.
A nonprofit run by Hoch since its creation in 2000, the trust owns four stages that draw a half-million ticket buyers annually: the renovated Orpheum, State and Pantages theaters on Hennepin Avenue, and a modern space inside City Center dubbed the New Century. The trust also recently purchased the Solera restaurant space adjoining the Orpheum.
A longtime advocate for the arts as a catalyst for urban renewal, Hoch placed the trust at the forefront of the national “creative place-making” movement. Last fall, for example, it led the way for a new Bob Dylan mural that has become a tourist draw at the north end of Hennepin. Elsewhere, it has enlisted artists to spruce up vacant downtown properties.
“Tom is a visionary leader who is able to unearth potential in historic buildings, city streetscapes and people eager to transform their corner of the world,” said board chairman Scott Benson, a Minneapolis attorney and former City Council member. “His resolve and passion have transformed not only the trust but also downtown Minneapolis.”
A lawyer by training, Hoch came to the theater world as a preservationist. While a projects manager with the city of Minneapolis, he helped lead efforts to acquire and restore the Orpheum and State. He quickly moved to preserve the Pantages as well when he became head of the Historic Theatre Group, a for-profit company charged with managing the theaters, in 1996.
The trust’s board is launching a national search for Hoch’s replacement.
Hoch expressed pride in the trust’s work and noted that theatergoers patronize restaurants and other downtown establishments. “Our success is inextricably tied to the success of the companies and businesses that call downtown home,” he said. “We’ve created an environment that helps people to fall in love with this place.”