Closing Thoughts: Mark Frie

Photo courtesy TPAC

CEO of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Mark Frie has a broad background in performance, directing and theatrical management. He’s played a variety of roles in musicals, operas and concerts, and made his solo debut at Carnegie Hall in 2006.

In his position, Frie works with national tours, headline acts and local arts companies to bring a variety of showcases to the stage. He also chairs the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts and Culture, which helps filmmakers, musicians, writers, artists and designers find the resources they need to bring their creations to life.

Before the TPAC, Frie has worked at Radio City Music Hall, Dallas Theatre Center and the Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center.

We caught up with Frie and got his thoughts on … 

… what encouraged him to enter a leadership role in the arts. 

I love the idea of being able to use the arts to impact a community, and I am so glad I get to do that in my hometown. As a performer, I have a connection and shared experience with the audience in the room. As a leader of a PAC, my ability to connect and share is broadened exponentially.

… his day-to-day.

No day is ever the same in my job, and I love it. My days range from managing my incredible staff to communicating with patrons and community partners, meeting with city officials and board members, speaking with booking agents across the country and making sure the facility is ready to host our events. 

… his goals for the future of the TPAC.

We must continue to diversify and reach younger audiences. That is done through creative programming that speaks to a wide range of demographics. I would also like to see us book more headline concert acts and comedy acts. 

… how the TPAC plans its seasons.

We look at our calendar at least three years ahead of time, sometimes four. We work with community partners and promoters in addition to presenting and producing ourselves. The first step is always calendar availability, then we look at titles, technical requirements, load-in and load-out timelines and artist requirements. A single event sends multiple employees and contractors into a flurry of activity.

… the best part of his job.

The people! I love my staff. They are all so talented and passionate about the arts. I have found that people who work in the arts and support the arts are typically creative, collaborative and accepting. Who doesn’t want that?

… why performing arts matter. 

The arts have the power to unify people and inspire the hearts of an entire community. Also, the arts have a huge economic impact on a city. The TPAC has an estimated impact of $100 million annually when you factor in ticket sales, hotel stays, restaurant visits, gas for vehicles and more. 

… the next 5-10 years for the TPAC.

Well, we have a major, $79.7 million renovation project ahead of us. That won’t start for about four years, but when we it’s completed, it will put the Tulsa Performing Arts Center back among the best venues in our region. It’s greatly needed. 

… his favorite shows and memories.

I have two different answers. As a performer, it was the first time I had a singing role on Chapman Music Hall stage with Tulsa Opera and then years later when I played the role of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables with Theatre Tulsa. As the CEO, my best memory is the first time Hamilton played in Tulsa. It was magical. 

… his time outside work. 

You can often find me on the golf course. After a long week at work, there is nothing more soothing to me than to walk 18 holes as the sun sets. It’s my quiet place and refuge.

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