A new act begins

Stages Announces Major Staff Changes

As Managing Director Mark Folkes bows out, Eboni Bell takes centerstage as Inclusion, Engagement and Training director.

By Catherine Wendlandt January 28, 2021

Stages's outgoing managing director, Mark Folkes, and new Inclusion, Engagement and Training director, Eboni Bell.

Major staffing changes are rocking the house at Stages*. On Thursday Stages announced Managing Director Mark Folkes, who’s been at the company since 2015, will step down in late April. Folkes, who previously worked in leading positions at Houston Symphony and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc, will join the Greater Houston Community Foundation as the new chief growth officer.

During Folkes’s tenure at Stages, he helmed the $35.8-million fundraising effort to build The Gordy, Stages’s stunning new theater.

“I can’t overstate the impact Mark has had on Stages,” Board President Jane Schmitt said in a statement. “We are moving forward with confidence knowing that the organization that Mark has helped build will continue to thrive.”

Folkes will continue his job at Stages over the next three months as Schmitt leads a nationwide search for a new managing director.

“I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to partner and lead during an unbelievably exciting time in Stages’s history,” Folkes said. “While Stages's community, impact, and opportunity have grown, one thing has remained constant: Stages is surrounded by a deeply dedicated, passionate, and smart community who will continue to lift this organization up to the highest heights in the years ahead.” 

Meanwhile as Folkes is leaving, longtime Stages team member Eboni Bell is taking centerstage as the company’s very first Inclusion, Engagement and Training director. Bell, who’s worked at Stages for six years, serving first as house manager and then venue and events manager, will officially take up the role on February 8.

“Eboni has shown a deep and abiding commitment to Stages and it makes me immensely proud to welcome this inspiring leader to our management team,” Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin stated. “The expansion of our management team will allow Stages to effectively operationalize our continued work in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and elevate our role in bringing diverse communities together to share in art and art making.”

*A previous version of this story referred to the company by its former name, Stages Repertory Theatre. This has been corrected.

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