Andre Perry to leave the Englert, search begins for next executive director

Andre Perry (L, the Englert) and Andrew Sherburne (FilmScene) speak to the crowd ahead of the marquee lighting. Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. — Addison Arp/Little Village

In a news release invoking “a new chapter,” the Englert Theatre in Iowa City announced on Tuesday that long-time executive director Andre Perry would be stepping down on Sept. 13 to “tackle new projects in the community.” Current Englert marketing director John Schickedanz will serve as the interim executive while the board of directors conducts a nationwide search for someone to permanently fill Perry’s shoes. Board president Carl Brown will lead the search effort.

Perry, who has been in his role at the Englert for 11 years, shepherded the theater through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, engaging community and national resources and connecting Iowa City to broader efforts through his work with the National Independent Venue Association. He oversaw a diversification of the Englert’s offerings, taking a core role in the Iowa City community in offering virtual and later outdoor event series, as well as virtual festival experimentation.

In recent years, he was instrumental in conceiving and executing the Strengthen • Grow • Evolve partnership with FilmScene, which broke new ground as a joint fundraising initiative and laid the groundwork for the Greatest Small City for the Arts concept for Iowa City.

That partnership was just one example of the integrative approach Perry has brought to the Englert during his time at the helm. He routinely expanded the theater’s reach in the community through programming partnerships with other institutions, including series at Gabe’s and The Mill, along with Iowa City Downtown Block Party and joint efforts north in Cedar Rapids at the Paramount Theatre. He also co-founded the Witching Hour festival (with Little Village) and the Mission Creek festival; he will remain in his role as festival director for the next iteration of each event.

Active on the arts scene over the years as both a musician (with his band the Lonelyhearts) and as an author (his collection Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now released in 2019), Perry has brought a keen and precise aesthetic sense to programming at the Englert and for satellite events. His style as a curator is thoughtful, forward-thinking and diverse, both catching the pulse of community tastes and steering them. Over the past 11 years, he has honed a curatorial voice of remarkable clarity, as well as nurturing a discerning vision in those who work with him.

Andre Perry takes the Englert stage during the 2019 Witching Hour festival. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Schickedanz is among those who has worked closely with Perry, and his transition into the interim executive director role will be one to watch. As marketing director, he has guided the public face and footprint of the organization and developed an intimate sense of its needs and direction. Schickendanz will be closely supported by the continuing long-time Englert senior leadership team of Jessica Egli, Sarah Shonrock and Katie Roche.

“The whole team is outstanding,” the news release quotes Perry. “They are a gift to the community and culture.”

Perry will continue with the Englert in a temporary capacity to finalize fall and spring programming and assist in the search for his replacement.

Andre Perry introduces the Writers Of Color reading at Prairie Lights on the second day of the Mission Creek Festival. Wednesday, April 5, 2017. — Zak Neumann/Little Village