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For Her, It’s Not Just A Job

Published: August 21, 2017

Kline Crockett
Megan Kline Crockett

For Megan Kline Crockett, heading up the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center at CSULB is not just a job.

“I don’t look at it like that at all,” she said. “You have to be connected to it and I am. For me, this is stimulating and energizing.”

Kline Crockett was named the center’s interim executive director in September 2016, replacing Michele Roberge, who stepped down on Aug. 25 after 14 years. She had roughly two weeks to learn the ropes before she was basically on her own.

“There was a lot that was truly in transition that I had to pick up right where it was left off,” said Kline Crockett. “Michele was very generous with her time and was very supportive of me. She handed everything to me that she thought would be helpful and I was very appreciative of that.”

After staying at home for 10 years to raise her two children, Kline Crockett returned to the workforce for Anne D’Zmura, who was serving as CSULB’s theater arts’ chair. Kline Crockett eventually became the department’s managing director.

With her background that includes working at a major agency–International Creative Management, serving as the managing director of a high-profile art gallery in New York and her four-year stint in the theater arts department on campus, when Roberge stepped down, Kline Crockett’s appointment seemed a natural fit.

“One thing that really helped me with the transition was knowing the university and already having good relationships across the campus,” she said. “I think that helps a lot. This campus is like a little city and it’s nice to figure out ways we can work together. I’m really looking forward to connecting with our academic units, and finding new ways to reflect the remarkable diversity of our campus and community.”

College of the Arts’ Dean Cyrus Parker-Jeannette, who has worked closely with Kline Crockett, feels she possesses traits to lead the center.

“I have now worked with Megan for several years and find that she has the qualities of great leadership,” said Parker-Jeannette, who named Kline Crockett to her current position. “My view of Megan is multifaceted. She is courageous while remaining humble, cares deeply about individuals while also understanding an organization as a whole, and she is highly committed to engaging the community through the power of the arts.”

Those qualities were certainly beneficial to Kline Crockett, who early on had her share of challenges as the center’s new leader. In January, its marketing director took another job, just as the center’s busiest marketing period was beginning.

“So, on top of finishing up the 2016-17 season programming and lots of contractual items, I was also writing the center’s season brochure, which we got out on time. I was doing subscription renewals and working with ad reps to place ads. I was heavily involved with all that,” she said, noting those duties are generally overseen by the marketing director.

Another challenge was when actress and singer Patti LaPone, scheduled to headline the annual President’s Gala at the Carpenter Center in April, pulled out in October after getting cast in a Broadway show.

“Because of that, I had to find somebody who people that already had Patti LaPone tickets would hopefully be willing to keep those tickets for the new person,” she said.

Enter singer and pianist Michael Feinstein.

“Negotiating that contract was a challenge, but we talked a lot about what the funds from that fundraiser go to, our Arts for Life program,” said Kline Crockett. “Michael is a big advocate for arts education and music education so I think that helped in us getting him to come here. And he was wonderful.”

Thus, she survived those two early challenges and with assistance from a supportive staff, she has thrived.

“This is one of the best staffs I have ever worked with,” she said. “They are so good at what they do, they are so responsible and their work ethic is incredible. I never have to worry about anything. They are total professionals and that is reflected in the excellent relationships we have with our community partners.”

Now, as she readies to enter her second year in the position, Kline Crockett feels more at ease, more comfortable in the role.

“Last year when I took the position, 45 percent of the schedule had yet to be filled,” she said, “so it was quite hectic. The 2017-18 season is set and I’m already working on 2018-19.”

Obviously, Kline Crockett knew about the Carpenter Center and much of its good work, but she wasn’t aware of all the events it hosted and that nearly 100,000 individuals come through its doors every year.

“It’s really amazing,” said Kline Crockett, whose husband Bryan Crockett is a faculty member CSULB’s College of the Arts. “This center is a very big part of Long Beach’s cultural scene. It’s really an important urban cultural center.”

Founded in 1994, the $27 million Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center seats more than 1,000 patrons. The center is named after pop music duo Richard and Karen Carpenter, who both attended CSULB. The center has remained committed to bringing an eclectic lineup of professional artists to the CSULB campus.