COH’s Pinard Stepping Down

CLAREMONT — After roughly two years of service with the Claremont Opera House, Executive Director Andrew Pinard has announced that he will be stepping down from the position. Board President of the COH, Felicia Byrch Dalke, made the announcement on Thursday. Pinards’ last day will be February 28, with current Technical Director Scott Hagar taking over as interim executive director on March 1, 2023.

Left to right: Scott Hagar — Technical Director and incoming Interim Executive Director, Kara Messinese — House Manager, JT Messinese — Technical Support, and Andrew Pinard — outgoing Executive Director.
Photo Courtesy of the Claremont Opera House

The COH Board of Directors has stated that moving forward they do not intend to hire a new executive director but rather split the responsibilities up between three positions. According to Byrch Dalke, the board will be looking to fill two positions–an artistic director and an operations director. This is in an effort to allow each manager to focus directly on specific aspects of the COH’s functions. While some nearby opera houses, such as Newport, operate with a single individual serving as executive director, others, such as Lebanon, not only have an executive director but an operations manager and technical director as well.

“We still have work to do to finalize the job description for each role, but we hope to have them staffed by the end of May,” Byrch Dalke said of the efforts the board is taking to determine what the newly created positions will entail.

Hagar currently serves as the technical director for the COH, a position he will remain in and further expand upon after the two other positions are filled.

“Scott has been an asset to the COH for over a decade, and we are confident his leadership will enable us to successfully transition to the new model,” said Cassie Audette, board vice president, in a press release.

According to a statement from the the COH Board of Directors, Pinard had very successfully filled all of these roles in his time as director. The board has stated that Pinard expanded not only the quality but also the diversity of programming at the COH. Pinard said in an interview with the Eagle Times that, while COH has made infrastructure improvements during his time, he will be leaving behind additional plans for the future as well. This includes a potential service elevator, which will enable the transportation of gear.

Like many businesses, the performing arts have struggled after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Pinard stated that, while people are ready to come out to see shows, the COH still has some hurdles to overcome. This includes issues such as similar programming in nearby towns with a higher population density, but in addition, there are logistical difficulties that inherently come with being in Claremont.

“It would be nice to have a big name on the marquee. Part of the challenge is that people might want a place to stay, and if you sell out, it would become difficult to find a place,” Pinard said, referencing the concern of lodging availability in town. This includes performers in addition to traveling audience members. Pinard further stated, “It’s unfortunately not a problem that will be solved overnight, and not by the opera house.”

As Pinard prepares his departure to spend more time on his career as a performer, he acknowledges that the COH is being left in the incredibly capable hands of Hagar, who he said is “a local treasure, frankly, who supported the opera house in ways people may never know.”

As the Claremont Opera House moves into their spring season, they will continue efforts to seek specialized and diversified acts. The hope is that COH will draw audience members from all over who are in search of quality and unique shows that can only be encountered in Claremont.

COH’s Pinard Stepping Down: Scott Hagar Taking Over as Interim Executive Director
By Dylan Marsh EAGLE TIMES STAFF Feb 25, 2023
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