Meet Arvind Manocha – an expert on performing arts venues. Manocha was named President and CEO of the Wolf Trap Foundation in January, after former President and CEO Terrence Jones retired at the end of 2012. Jones had a 40 year career in the performing arts community and spent 17 of those years at the Wolf Trap Foundation. Manocha has also had quite a career working for a number of performing arts venues. Those venues include the The Walt Disney Concert Hall and the legendary Hollywood Bowl.
Manocha’s near decade at the Hollywood Bowl led to the venue being named “Best Outdoor Amphitheatre in the U.S.” eight years in a row by Pollstar magazine; from 2004 to 2011. He is also credited with the high attendance and providing diversity in concert offerings. Manocha recently spoke with WashingtonExec about his plans for Wolf Trap, the organization’s involvement in STEM initiatives, how businesses and organizations can get involved in partnering with Wolf Trap, and the performances he’s most looking forward to this summer.
WashingtonExec: You recently won an award for best major outdoor venue in America for Hollywood Bowl. How do you plan to have Wolf Trap stand out in our region?
Arvind Manocha: I think that Wolf Trap already occupies a very unique spot in this region and of course I’m continuing to get to know that as I live here a little bit longer. I think there are very few places in the country where there is a marriage of setting and spirit and music in the way that exists here at Wolf Trap. Wolf Trap is clearly a place that was specifically designed for the enjoyment of music. It’s in a beautiful location. It has an architecturally stunning facility. It has a summer season that is intended to speak to audiences across all backgrounds and it has policies that encourage community and a sense of family; whether it be bringing your own picnic and bringing your own food and wine and having free parking and keeping ticket prices low. Our intent of course is that everyone can feel like they have a place of their own at Wolf Trap.
WashingtonExec: What do you view as the largest draw for Wolf Trap patrons?
Arvind Manocha: I think the biggest part of our identity is the summer season; for most people that would be the thing that they would probably think of first. We have close to a half million people that come through the gates every summer. But from my perspective, the diverse summer season, our renowned early childhood education programs, the Wolf Trap Opera Company program, and our recital series and concerts at The Barns all make up a rich palate of activity over the course of a year, and that unique mix of assets makes my job particularly interesting.
“I think there are very few places in the country where there is a marriage of setting and spirit and music in the way that exists here at Wolf Trap”
WashingtonExec: What are some goals you have for Wolf Trap this year and beyond?
Arvind Manocha: I obviously want to continue on with the great traditions that make Wolf Trap what it is and the unique experience of going to the Filene Center, which is really unparalleled. From a programmatic side, I’m working with the team now to think about 2014 and what direction we want to take the festival. We see some changes in 2013 as well, but I think what I would look for is a 2014 season that looks a little bit different than what people are used to, but still has the important foundational elements that make Wolf Trap what it is.
The second thing I would say, importantly, is that we are very much looking at drawing new focus and attention on our early childhood education programs. We have a major partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and will announce research results related to our Early STEM/Arts program in 2014 Education is definitely something many people are not aware of when they think of the the Wolf Trap story.
I think a lot of arts companies strive to have programs that have the kind of reach that Wolf Trap has created over these last thirty years. To have a summer music festival that’s as well known and is attached to an education program that operates in sixteen cities across the country is something to be proud of, and to champion whenever we can.
WashingtonExec: Can you talk a little bit more about your STEM programs?
Arvind Manocha: Our STEM through the Arts programs teach stem concepts using the arts as a teaching tool. It’s very exciting work that we think will help teachers by giving them a new avenue to achieving curricular goals. What is especially important is that the U.S. Department of Education is drawing attention and focus on our newest program, through a research project, the results of which will be published next year. We are continuing to roll out the STEM program; not only to the classrooms here in the local area but to our classrooms across the country at our Wolf Trap partnership sites.
WashingtonExec: What channels would you recommend to businesses or organizations wanting to form a partnership with Wolf Trap?
Arvind Manocha: Contact us. If they are unfamiliar with our programs, the easiest thing to do would be to start with our website; www.WolfTrap.org. As a nonprofit, we rely heavily on partnerships and contributions to sustain our arts and education programs, and we are grateful for the support of many corporations and businesses that engage with us as corporate partners. Wolf Trap is an ideal place to entertain their clients or staff , while supporting our education efforts at the same time.
WashingtonExec: Have you started planning for the annual Wolf Trap Ball in September?
Arvind Manocha: We have, and this year our partner country is going to be France. Every year we partner with a different country; the embassy and Ambassador of France have been wonderful partners. Our event is being held on September 21st and it’s not only going to be a lot of fun but obviously is a highlight event on the social calendar. We rely on corporate support for this event and with its unique setting on the Filene stage, it presents the perfect opportunity to bring your top clients and staff and really make a night out of it. All of that money very directly goes to support our programs and education efforts. I think it is a nice and wonderful way for people to get involved with Wolf Trap, while supporting the future generations of music lovers and kids all at the same time.
WashingtonExec: Is there a particular performance you are looking forward to this summer for the concert series?
Arvind Manocha: I’m excited to see our production of the opera La traviata on July 19th that we are doing in conjunction with the National Symphony and the Wolf Trap Opera Company. It will be the first large opera at the Filene Center in a few years. I’m also a big fan of Juanes, the Colombian superstar who is coming on June 19th. I’m also looking forward to seeing Grace Potter and Trombone Shorty on August 15th – that’s a killer double bill.
Learn more about Wolf Trap’s involvement with STEM programs here.