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Published: Wednesday, 3/24/2010

Valentine Theater head named

BY TAHREE LANE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jex Jex
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Jori Lynch Jex, a leader at many Toledo arts groups for more than two decades, has been named general manager of the Valentine Theatre and will take the reins April 12.

At a time when local arts and sports venues are rallying against a proposed city ticket tax, and the Valentine's endowment is below par, Ms. Jex, who will be paid $60,000 a year, faces a pile of cash challenges.

She'll oversee operations at the theater, which has a staff of six, and be the lead fund-raiser. She'll also be expected to build partnerships with local arts groups and encourage more of them to use the theater.

Ms. Jex yesterday recalled taking part in the "Save the Valentine" activities of the 1980s and 1990s. The result was the renovation of the historic theater and its reopening in 1999. That effort, she said, showed that the community "was savvy enough to know the importance of historic theaters to downtown."

"I am absolutely thrilled to be working at the Valentine," she said. "I am so looking forward to it."

Bill Conner, president of CAPA, the Columbus nonprofit that manages the Valentine, said the theater's direction will shift somewhat from being an organization that primarily presents shows to one that hosts the performances of local groups such as the Toledo Ballet and the Toledo Jazz Society.

"The idea now is to change the mix," Mr. Conner said. That was an original intent of the renovated theater when it reopened, but local groups quickly found the Valentine's costs too expensive. "We're working with the stagehands union to make things more affordable for arts groups," Mr. Conner said.

Ms. Jex said she aspired "to make the Valentine a showplace for local artists as well as [to] present groups that are coming through."

Most recently, Ms. Jex was director of Project ABC, a four-year study, funded by a Kellogg Foundation grant to the City of Toledo, of the impact of the arts on children ages 3-5.

The Valentine's previous director, Dale Vivirito, resigned July 1 to lead a new-theater project in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He was executive director of the 901-seat Valentine, theater since its grand reopening.

Originally opened in 1895, the historic Valentine is owned by the nonprofit Toledo Cultural Arts Center, which entered into a five-year agreement in 2009 with the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) to manage and operate the theater. The nonprofit CAPA owns and operates several theaters in Columbus and one in New Haven, Conn. It was formed in 1969 to save the historic Ohio Theatre in Columbus from the wrecking ball.

On another front, the Valentine's endowment is at $4.8 million but needs to be $6 million, Mr. Conner said, adding that Ms. Jex will lead that endowment effort.

Ms. Jex, 54, was executive director of the Toledo Jazz Society from 1998-2004; general manager of the Toledo Repertoire Theatre from 1990-1997, and business manager at the University of Toledo's department of theatre, film, and dance from 1982-1990, during which she was a part-time theater instructor. She is married to David Jex, a UT music professor who teaches jazz, theory, and composition and is a jazz musician. They live in Sylvania and are parents of two sons, Matthew, 21, and Andrew, 17.

Contact Tahree Lane at:

tlane@theblade.com

or 419-724-6075.



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