SLO’s Performing Arts Center welcomes new boss

Christopher Miller will begin his new post as managing director of the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo on May 9.
Christopher Miller will begin his new post as managing director of the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo on May 9.

The Performing Arts Center’s new managing director wants to open up the San Luis Obispo venue to a wider variety of events, including commercial conferences and corporate meetings.

“There are wonderful opportunities to build the range of clients who use the hall,” said Christopher “Chris” Miller, who begins his new job May 9 and replaces Ron Regier, who retired Dec. 31. Nancy Cochran has served as interim managing director since then.

Miller, 58, has a bachelor’s degree in drama from the University of Washington in Seattle and a master of fine arts degree in performing arts management from the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College.

Miller started his professional career as director of operations of Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet, a post he held for more than 15 years. He oversaw theater operations at the home of the Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall, for two years before spending 12 years as the general manager of McCaw Hall, which houses Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Opera.

Miller said much of his focus at McCaw Hall was on “revenue generation for nonresident events.”

As managing director, Miller will oversee day-to-day operations at the PAC, which features the 1,289-seat Harman Hall, the 180-seat Phillips Hall and the 400-seat Pavilion. The venue, which opened in 1996, was built as the result of a joint venture by Cal Poly, the city of San Luis Obispo and the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center.

“One of the things that excites me is the diversity of clients who use the (PAC),” Miller said.

He counts Cal Poly Arts director Steve Lerian, whose organization books the majority of the concerts, theater productions and other shows at the PAC, as a longtime friend and mentor.

Miller said he intends to follow his predecessor’s strategic plan, which aims to maintain the state-of-the-art facility, strengthen its financial future and serve the needs of the community and Cal Poly campus. He’d also like to address any wear and tear the PAC has sustained during its 20-year history.

“My initial goal is just to sustain what Ron and the staff have created,” Miller said. “It’s a very successful, well-loved, busy place, and that is phenomenal.”

Miller, who will live in San Luis Obispo with his wife and daughter, will arrive in town in time for the San Luis Obispo Symphony’s season finale at the PAC on May 7.