The Springer Opera House has promoted longtime staffer Danielle Patterson Varner to the position of managing director. The announcement was made at the Board of Director’s meeting on May 22.
Varner is well-known to Springer audiences, having begun her career there as assistant box office manager in 2002 and worked her way up through the positions of box office manager, director of audience development and, most recently, to director of development, the theatre’s chief fundraising officer – a position she has held for the past four years.
The managing director oversees the daily operations of the theatre, including sales, customer service, finance, fundraising, marketing, facility management and board relations. Varner will report directly to producing artistic director Paul Pierce who has been the Springer’s CEO for thirty seasons.
Varner has been successful in increasing individual giving, corporate sponsorship and grant revenue during her tenure, helping to strengthen the State Theatre of Georgia’s financial stability. She has been instrumental in building a close relationship with the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, which resulted in a $100,000 contribution this past fall for a project called “Turning the Springer Inside-Out” – the installation of two LED signs which tell the theatre’s story on the outside of the building.
She also secured a $100,000 grant from the Historic Columbus Foundation in 2017 to be used to repair roof and water damage throughout the historic theatre.
“Danielle became essential to the Springer and its patrons almost from the moment she joined the staff in 2002,“ said Pierce. „The growth of Springer audiences and donors during that period could not have happened without Danielle’s devotion to our artistic work, her passion for customer service and her constant striving to make us better and stronger. Danielle is a rare and wonderful leader who was destined for this moment.”
Varner saw her first production at the Springer in 1994 – Tennessee Williams‘ A Streetcar Named Desire – and became hooked. She began ushering for shows, got involved in her Russell County High School drama program and eventually studied theatre and communications at Southern Union College. Before joining the Springer staff, she performed in shows, including A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum and The Wizard of Oz, in which she played the Wicked Witch of the West.
Varner served on the Uptown Columbus BID board from 2014 to 2018. She is a member of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Audience Building Roundtable, the Columbus Cultural Arts Alliance and has worked closely with Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens for the past eight years.
“I have developed a deep passion and love for the Springer and our patrons over the course of my tenure,“ said Varner. „I’m fortunate to have witnessed and played a part of the marvelous advancement and transformation of this theatre in the past sixteen years. In my new role as managing director, I look forward to having a greater impact on our progress by building honest and trusting relationships with our patrons. To me, our patrons are not just people holding tickets; they represent the potential for the Springer to influence the development of our community. The Springer has a vision to strengthen families, educational institutions and the creative economy and I’m ready to get to work pursuing that vision.“
Varner is excited about all of the innovations in the Springer’s programming. “The Springer’s stage productions are among the best in the country and we are getting better every single year,” Varner said. “ But our newer initiatives of the Springer Film Institute, the PAIR arts integration program and our Georgia Repertory Theatre partnership with CSU are rearranging our mission and amplifying our influence throughout the region.”
“I am also eager to increase the diversity of our staff, our audience and our board of directors. There are new creative platforms for connecting with people and I’m anxious to use them all.
I am so honored to be given this opportunity to serve the theatre I love and to work with an amazingly creative team.”