President and CEO; Orpheum Theatre Group
Orpheum Theatre Group is a Memphis, Tennessee non-profit organization whose mission is “to enhance the communities we serve by utilizing the performing arts to entertain, educate and enlighten while preserving the historic Orpheum Theatre and the Halloran Centre for the Performing Arts & Education.” The theatre has been recognized on three occasions with Tony Awards for producing Best Musicals, including Memphis the Musical in the 2009-2010 Broadway Season.
Brett Batterson assumed the role of President & CEO of the Orpheum Theatre Group on January 1, 2016. In his relatively short tenure to date, he has overseen the renaming and branding of the organization, substantially increased educational programming, and led a total renovation of the Orpheum’s historic interior and offices. In the community, he founded the Memphis Cultural Coalition, a roundtable of the CEOs of Memphis’ largest cultural institutions.
Prior to assuming the role of President/CEO of Orpheum Theatre Group, Batterson spent 11 years as Executive Director of the national historic landmark Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. In that role, he created an award-winning, one-of-a-kind arts camp for children who have experienced the death of a parent (Hands Together, Heart to Art), three successful city-wide festivals (Miles Davis Festival, Billy Strayhorn Festival, and The Music + Movement Festival), and an affiliated for-profit company (Chicago’s Landmark Stage Ventures) that invests in national theatrical productions. The Auditorium hosted the National Football League (NFL) Draft in 2015, the first time that event had been held outside of NYC in 50 years, and staged the successful celebration of the theatre’s 125th anniversary season in 2014. In addition, numerous capital improvements were completed to the historic Auditorium during Brett’s service. He also co-founded the ongoing program, Enrich Chicago, that is striving to bring racial equity in arts management to the city’s cultural institutions.
Brett spent 10 years (1994-2004) at Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit, serving as that company’s Chief Operating Officer. While there, he spearheaded the construction of the Detroit Opera House and was integral in presenting The Three Tenors at Tiger Stadium, which was the highest-grossing concert in America in 1999 with sales exceeding $6 million.
In his first 15-year career as a Scenic Designer/Technical Director, he worked at such theatres as The Guthrie Theatre, Minnesota Opera Company, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, Theatre Midland, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Association, Chattanooga Ballet, Minnesota Jazz Dance Company, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Idaho Summer Repertory Theatre, The Nashville Network, The Grand Ole Opry, Beverly Dinner Playhouse, and Tulane Center Stage.
Batterson is active in numerous civic and trade organizations, including The Broadway League and Independent Presenters Network. While in Chicago, he served on the boards of The League of Chicago Theatres and Illinois Presenter’s Network. He also served on the advisory boards of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre, Kalapryia Center for Indian Performing Arts, and Giordano Dance Chicago. Brett is a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary international.
He has been recognized by the state of Michigan, as well as the Detroit City Council and Mayor’s Office, for his contributions to Michigan’s cultural life, and in 2009 received a State Farm Insurance Company “Embrace Life” Award as the creator of Hands Together, Heart to Art. In 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015, Brett was recognized as one of the 50 most influential people in Chicago theatre by New City News. In that bi-annual ranking, he was ranked second in 2015. In 2014, on behalf of the Auditorium, Batterson accepted the inaugural Fifth Star Award from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city of Chicago, which recognized the theatre’s artistic contributions to the city. In 2016, Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic honored Brett with their “Think Big” award for his work creating performance opportunities for the orchestra.
Brett holds a B.A. from Augsburg College and an M.F.A. from Tulane University. He is married to author Veronica Randolph Batterson. They have two grown daughters.