AACT Begins Search for New Leader

by Jacob Coakley
Julie Crawford, the first executive director of AACT, will retire next year.
Julie Crawford, the first executive director of AACT, will retire next year.

Julie Crawford, longtime executive director of the American Association of Community Theatre, has announced she will retire next fall. She has led AACT since 1994—when she was named the organization’s first executive director—and under her leadership the organization has grown in membership and services. 


The American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) announces long time Executive Director Julie Crawford will retire in September 2017.

AACT President Murray Chase has appointed a search committee to find a new executive director to guide the membership organization to new heights. A candidate will be chosen by mid-February 2017, and the new Executive Director will be in place to meet the membership at AACTFest in June. For information on the position visit www.aact.org/jobs.

AACT is a dynamic association, driven by the mission To Help Theatres Thrive. It is best known for its festival program, AACTFest, culminating in a national community theatre festival; AACT NewPlayFest, a script competition; and AACT WorldFest; and is currently developing national activities for youth.

AACT was founded in 1986 and Julie became AACT’s first Executive Director in 1994. During her tenure with AACT, there have been great changes. Email and websites emerged and now dominate communication and resource sharing. AACT’s Spotlight grew from a 12 page newsletter to a 40 page color magazine with an online version. Membership increased from about 700 to over 1800 and to theatres at U.S. military bases overseas. Education became a stronger focus with annual educational conferences. The budget increased from $72,000 to over half a million. Vendor support improved through increased advertising, AACT member discounts, sponsorships, and the recent launch of the Corporate Partners program. AACT now has five full time and six part time staff. AACT President Murray Chase notes, “Julie has been an integral agent of change and continuing growth for this national organization.”

It’s a time of change for AACT, but that is nothing new. Julie’s work with the AACT Board and its dedicated volunteers leaves a legacy and a strong, forward looking organization, ready to welcome a new staff leader!

AACT provides networking, resources, and support for America’s theatres. AACT represents the interests of more than 7,000 theatres across the United States and its territories, as well as theatre companies with the U.S. Armed Services overseas.