New president for Oakland Center for the Arts

Staff report


Cleric Costes is the new president of the Oakland Center for the Arts.

The actor/director took over the position this month after Christopher Fidram chose to take an advisory position on the theater’s board of directors. Fidram took over after previous president Denise Bayer stepped down this summer.

Costes is a Kent State University theater studies graduate who worked for several years at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and also founded the Blackbird Theatre Company in Chicago before returning to the area. He has directed and appeared in many productions at area theaters, including the Youngstown Playhouse, Victorian Players, Kent State Trumbull Theatre and the Oakland. Most recently, he adapted and directed Carlo Gozzi’s children’s fairy tale, “King Stag,” for the Oakland’s new Teen Summer Stock Series, and is directing “Twelfth Night” for Mahoning Valley Players’ Shakespeare in the Park productions this weekend at Mill Creek Park’s Morley Pavilion.

Michael Dempsey is the Oakland’s new office administrator. He will oversee the theater’s marketing, media and public relations efforts. Dempsey is a professional novelist, playwright, TV and film writer and media writer/designer who worked off-Broadway in New York and wrote sitcoms for network television in Los Angeles before returning to the area in 2009. He performs regularly in Northeast Ohio and has directed many shows in the area, including last season’s critically- acclaimed “Jesus Christ Superstar” at Salem Community Theatre and “I Am My Own Wife” at the Oakland.

Costes and Dempsey will focus on increasing public awareness of the Oakland. “We have a very dedicated following, but there are still people who don’t know who we are,” said Costes. “We’re smack in the middle of the revitalizing downtown area ... and we’re very excited to be a part of the resurgence of the business and arts sector there.”

Costes’ other goals for the coming year include facility upgrades, improvements in the technical and production elements of shows and increased underwriting and sponsorship.

Founded in 1986, the Oakland specializes in contemporary musicals, dramas and comedies. Its 2012-13 season includes “Spring Awakening,” “Hair,” “Prelude to a Kiss,” “The Normal Heart,” “The Children’s Hour” and “Hail to the Chef.”

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