Bradley Anderson retires after 40 years leading Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre

Longtime Children’s Theatre Artistic Director Bradley D. Anderson will retire at the end of the year. In 40 years as Artistic Director for the Children’s Theatre, Anderson’s leadership and vision has built a theatre company that entertains, educates and engages thousands of Arkansas families, students and teachers every year.

Recognized by The Drama League as one of the best regional theatre companies in America, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is the only professional company in Arkansas that produces children’s literary works for the stage. Since 1979, when the professional company was established under Anderson’s leadership, the Children’s Theatre has been creating exceptional theatre for family audiences.

“I am so proud of the work we’ve done in the Children’s Theatre over the last 40 years,” Anderson said. “I know the Children’s Theatre legacy will continue to flourish for many years to come.”

Anderson wrote, adapted and directed numerous plays in his time at the Children’s Theatre, including crowd-favorite Main Stage shows as well as experimental Studio Shows for young audiences. In 1985, Anderson and the Children’s Theatre participated in the renowned Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. In 1986, he received the National Governor’s Association Excellence in the Arts Award. Before coming to the Children’s Theatre, Anderson served as the founding director of the County Stearns Theatrical Company in St. Cloud, Minn. and was the Director of Studio Theatre of the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

The Children’s Theatre is dedicated to the creation and presentation of high-quality adaptions and original plays for young people and their families. Inspired by classic and contemporary sources, their works provide an honest, relevant, and challenging artistic experience for audiences throughout the state.

“The Children’s Theatre has such a significant impact on youth and families throughout Arkansas – and so much of that is thanks to Bradley’s tireless dedication to creating magical theatre experiences,” Executive Director Victoria Ramirez said. “Thanks to Bradley’s excellent leadership, the Children’s Theatre will continue to be dedicated to providing educational and engaging live theatre for years to come.”

Associate Director Katie Campbell will serve as Interim Artistic Director. Campbell joined the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre in 2007 as a director, performer and puppet artist. She has performed in and directed numerous shows at the Children’s Theatre. Campbell was the recipient of the 2017 Puppeteers of America Jim Henson Award for Innovation, and her devised and directed shadow puppet play, The Ugly Duckling received a 2015 Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant. She is also a board member of TYA/USA, a national membership organization that strengthens the artistic and cultural impact of theatre for young audiences. Katie earned a Master’s in Directing Theatre for Young People from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Campbell will continue to lead the Children’s Theatre’s creative programming while the MacArthur Park building is under renovation. During the Arts Center’s transition period, Children’s Theatre has expanded its touring program, which has allowed the Arts Center to reach even more students and families across the state with professional, educational live theatre experiences. Through Children’s Theatre on Tour, literary-based theatre productions travel to schools, community centers and libraries across Arkansas. The 2019–2020 Children’s Theatre on Tour season continues this winter with, A Christmas Carol (November 12 – December 20), The Arkansas Story Porch (January 14 – February 28), and The Wind in the Willows (April 7 – May 15). Main Stage shows will resume in the Arkansas Arts Center’s renovated theater in the fall of 2022.

“The Children’s Theatre has an incredible legacy of creating new and inspiring work for youth and families,” Campbell said. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to build on this legacy, and I look forward to envisioning the future of theatre for young audiences with our community.”

Children’s Theatre programming while the Arts Center’s building is under construction is just one piece of the Arts Center’s commitment to remaining accessible to the community while its MacArthur Park building is under construction. The Arts Center is committed to working with cultural partners across the region to expand access to performing and visual art programming while increasing programming reach.