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Hennepin Theatre Trust President and CEO Mark Nerenhausen announces retirement

Mark Nerenhausen

After a more than 50 year-long career in performing arts center leadership and, most recently, positioning Hennepin Theatre Trust for its next era by securing the full titles to the historic Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres, Nerenhausen plans to retire in September.

Hennepin Theatre Trust President and CEO Mark Nerenhausen announced his retirement today. After an accomplished, more than 50 year-long career in performing arts center leadership and, most recently, positioning Hennepin Theatre Trust for its next era by securing the full titles to the historic Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres, Nerenhausen plans to retire in September 2023.

As Hennepin Theatre Trust’s only second President and CEO, under Nerenhausen’s leadership, Hennepin Theatre Trust grew from a fledgling steward of three historic theatres in downtown Minneapolis to a nationally-recognized performing arts center that generates an annual economic impact of $120 million, provides a platform for hundreds of Minnesota artists in the heart of the Hennepin Theatre District, works with thousands of high school students every year and advances the cultural and economic vitality of Minnesota.

During his tenure at Hennepin Theatre Trust, Nerenhausen successfully led the performing arts center through the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, welcomed Brave New Workshop—America’s oldest running sketch comedy troupe—into the Trust as a resident company, expanded the Trust’s statewide impact, honored the legacy of Minnesota’s most legendary comic in the renaming of the Dudley Riggs Theatre and achieved the most significant financial accomplishment in the Trust’s history.

Nerenhausen’s retirement follows this major achievement, which positions the Trust for its next era of driving the vitality of the Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis. In October 2022, 13 years ahead of schedule, Hennepin Theatre Trust paid off $14 million in bonds issued by the City of Minneapolis for the Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres. Under Nerenhausen’s leadership, Hennepin Theatre Trust completed the lease with the City and is now poised to accelerate its work as a major performing arts center in the heart of Minnesota.

“Over the course of my career, it has been my honor to advance the cultural vitality and economic engines of cities across the nation through the arts. I am particularly proud of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s major accomplishment in redeeming the bonds issued by the City 13 years early and securing the full titles to the historic Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres in downtown Minneapolis. With this achievement, I feel confident in my transition and in the stability and vitality of the Trust,” said Mark Nerenhausen, President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “As I conclude my professional career, I am proud and humbled to have worked alongside incredibly dedicated and passionate colleagues who firmly believe in the transformative power of the performing arts in our communities and in our lives. It has been a true honor.”

“Mark’s leadership and passion for the performing arts have helped propel Hennepin Theater Trust as a driving force in culture and entertainment in Minnesota, breathing essential energy into our downtown and helping drive its economic success. His both steady and visionary leadership of the Trust came at a pivotal time—navigating the Trust through the immense effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, while seizing opportunities like acquiring Brave New Workshop and the Dudley Riggs Theatre, expanding the Trust’s educational program, securing the titles to the theatres and more. Thanks to Mark’s vision, the Trust has become more than what we ever thought it could be and is now cemented as one of our nation’s leading performing arts centers,” said Andrea Mokros, Chair of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Board of Directors. “As we begin our nation-wide search for Hennepin Theatre Trust’s next leader, we will search for an individual to build on the foundation, values and example that Mark has set—one that prioritizes economic expansion in our community, equitable access to arts education and the vibrancy and safety of our downtown community.”

“Our extraordinary performing arts community, thanks to leaders like Mark Nerenhausen, contributes to the vibrancy and economic vitality of Minneapolis each and every day,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “I am grateful to Mark for his leadership in our city, and I know he has positioned Hennepin Theatre Trust to continue providing captivating performing arts experiences and transformative arts education for generations of people to come.”

“Saving our city’s historic theatres along Hennepin Avenue—the Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres—while establishing Hennepin Theatre Trust has been one of my proudest accomplishments in public service, and I am incredibly pleased with the Trust’s growth and trajectory over the years to become a nationally-recognized performing arts center,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman. “As Mark and I both conclude our careers of service to this community, I feel confident that the performing arts will continue to thrive in Minneapolis and that our city’s best years are yet to come.”

In its stewardship of the Hennepin Theatre District, Hennepin Theatre Trust works closely with civic partners in downtown Minneapolis and across the state.

“Mark Nerenhausen has absolutely been the right leader for our city at the right time,” said Melvin Tennant, President & CEO of Meet Minneapolis. “In his time as President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust, he has developed the organization into one that is recognized by its peers across the globe as a leading performing arts center, and he has been a steadfast partner and collaborator in our community’s destination awareness efforts. I wish Mark all the best.”

“It has been a joy and a privilege to work alongside Mark in creating a bustling, vibrant and welcoming neighborhood that we all know downtown Minneapolis can—and must—be. I will miss Mark’s visionary, big-picture leadership and near-constant ideas to better serve the people of Minnesota,” said Steve Cramer, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “I am grateful that Mark has set the Trust up for a smooth transition into its next chapter, and I look forward to great things to come for our downtown.”

“Mark Nerenhausen is an extraordinary leader, and Minnesotans have greatly benefitted from his visionary ideas to foster a nationally-known performing arts center in the heart of downtown Minneapolis,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber. “On the heels of Mark’s major achievement in paying off the City-issued bonds and securing the titles to the Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres, I am incredibly excited for the next chapter in Hennepin Theatre Trust’s history.”

Since its founding, Hennepin Theatre Trust has partnered with Broadway Across America to bring the best of Broadway to the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

“Broadway Across America is proud to partner with Hennepin Theatre Trust to provide over 6 million people with the excitement of Broadway on Hennepin Avenue. It has been a pleasure to serve alongside Mark in this partnership, and I wish him all the best in his retirement,” said Jim Sheeley, President of Broadway Across America North. “As the Trust appoints its next leader to usher the organization into its next era, Broadway Across America remains committed to our partnership with the Trust and to mission of bringing the best of Broadway to Minneapolis.”

Prior to joining Hennepin Theatre Trust, Nerenhausen served as founding director and professor of practice of the Janklow Arts Leadership Program at Syracuse University. Before that, he served as president and CEO of the $354 million AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, where he secured AT&T as a naming sponsor, raised more than $4 million in the first year of operations, created a governing board and instituted an integrated business information platform. He also brokered strategic partnerships with regional and national organizations, several of which were devoted to minority arts, and initiated the Jazz Roots series.

From 1998 to 2009, Nerenhausen led the Performing Arts Center Authority in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with responsibility for managing the multi-venue Broward Center and five other performing arts venues, fashioning it into a catalyst for tourism, economic development, education, industry innovations and cross-cultural exchange. Under Nerenhausen’s tenure, the Broward Center’s main concert hall consistently ranked in the world’s top 10 venues for ticket sales, according to Pollstar and Venues Today magazines.

Nerenhausen has held other major positions at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kahului, Hawaii (1993-98); the Oshkosh Grand Opera House in Wisconsin (1990-93); the Bijou Theater Center in Knoxville, Tenn. (1987-89); the Milwaukee Performing Arts Center in Wisconsin (1985-87); and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville (1983-85).

Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Board of Directors has retained Schall Executive Search, a Minneapolis-based executive search firm, to aide in the nation-wide search, recruitment and selection of the next President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. Nerenhausen plans to step down in September 2023.