The Theatre Winter Haven Board of Trustees announce August 2 that Dan Chesnicka has accepted the position of Producing Director – the Theatre's chief executive. The selection of Chesnicka represents the end of a year-long, nationwide search process.
“Dan is innovative and energetic, but also fiscally responsible. He has the business and entertainment industry expertise to help us meet the needs of a community that is growing and changing. He has a deep appreciation for our history and our reputation for professional-quality productions. We are very excited!” said J. Kemp Brinson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Theatre Winter Haven.
Chesnicka has been a resident of Polk County for 25 years. He spent twelve years in the entertainment industry at Walt Disney World. While there, he had leadership roles on teams that specialized in ticketing strategy and integrating technology into the guest experience. He was also a Guest Relations executive and responsible for building Disney's Guided Tour business. For the past 10 years, Chesnicka has made his living as a successful inventor and product development consultant. He holds multiple patents and his products can be found on the shelves of major retailers all over the country.
Winter Haven mayor Nathaniel Birdsong, Jr., who serves on the Board of Trustees of Theatre Winter Haven, looks forward to continuing the City’s partnership with the Theatre with Chesnicka at the helm. “The announcement of this news makes me excited for the Winter Haven community. I’m sure with Dan’s experience and knowledge combined with the community relationships he’s cultivated through the years, we will continue to experience the vibrant quality live theater we’ve grown accustomed to at Theater Winter Haven. He is a tremendous asset,” said Birdsong.
Chesnicka is already well-known to the Theatre Winter Haven community. He has acted in many plays, (including the recent production of SHREK) and he is a frequent volunteer – he has worked in the shop, served on the Board, worked backstage, and has even sold raffle tickets. All three of Chesnicka's children have been active in the Theatre, especially in its Academy productions, which he refers to as "the beating heart" of Theatre Winter Haven.
According to Chesnicka, "Theatre Winter Haven is a jewel of our community. Thanks to our ongoing partnership with the city of Winter Haven, the loyalty of our audience, volunteers, and visiting artists, and the generous support of our patrons; we are Florida's most honored theater. Broadway and many national tours are populated by TWH alumni. I am thrilled to be a part of such an amazing institution and a member of the community that supports it.”
Chesnicka will replace founding director Norman M. Small, who is set to retire September 1, and who led the Theatre for 45 successful years. Small believes Chesnicka is the right man for the job. “After a long and thorough search, the decision to bring Dan on to take over the position is a satisfying one. He has a rare combination of supreme success in the business world, together with an inventive mind and a deep commitment to the artistic product. With an existing passion already in place and a thorough knowledge of both the community and the organization he will serve, Dan is already ahead of the curve. Yes, Dan's the man, but in our case, the Man is Dan.”
Dan will assume responsibility on September 1, 2015.
Norm Small will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chamber of Commerce at the Annual Meeting on September 10 for his Economic Impact through the Arts.