The Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City will begin construction on a $35 million art center project in June.
And with that sum of money flowing into and out of the coffers, festival officials have hired an experienced accountant, Zachary Murray, as general manager.
"It’s a bit of a new position," festival executive director R. Scott Phillips said Friday. "We had a business and finance director but we have enlarged the scope of that position so it includes more direct responsibility over things such as contracting. As we move forward with our arts complex, that is something I could no longer do on my own. And the board recognized that."
Murray most recently worked in Southern Utah University’s controller’s office as the plant and auxiliary accountant, preparing financial reports, helping with budget projections and providing support to multiple campus departments.
As general manager, he will serve in a senior leadership role, working with Phillips and artistic directors David Ivers and Brian Vaughn.
His first priority, said Phillips, will be to "make sure we stay in a good financial situation and to protect the financial assets of the Utah Shakespeare Festival."
Today, the festival’s future looks bright as it begins construction of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts. Plans include a new Shakespeare theater, a studio theater, the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) and a much-needed artistic and production facility.
A $6 million donation from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, several other major gifts and state and local tax dollars have been combined to cover the costs of the project, which is expected to open in spring 2016.
Murray received his bachelor’s degree as well as dual master’s degrees in business administration and accounting from SUU. And he previously worked in SUU’s Student Services Division.
"It’s important to work for an organization where you believe in the mission, and the festival brings a lot of educational awareness and artistic value to the community, region and thousands of stakeholders," Murray said. "Accounting is the art of examining what an organization looks like financially, and I can’t wait to provide timely, efficient and useful reports, policies and procedures that will help improve the financial health and longevity of the festival."
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