Kelley Shanley’s career of nearly 25 years at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, including 14 years at the helm as president and CEO, has been a time of extraordinary success and tremendous growth. Today, Shanley announced that he will be stepping down in March of 2024. Until then, he will remain in his current position to ensure a smooth and seamless transition to new leadership. The Performing Arts Center Authority, the governing board of the Broward Center, will be launching a national search for his replacement.
“It has been an incredible era for the Broward Center, and for the performing arts in South Florida, under Kelley’s outstanding leadership,” said Barbra Stern, chair of the Authority. “I’ve had the opportunity to witness his impact firsthand. His focus and determination have guided the Broward Center to new heights and demonstrated the power of the arts to go beyond entertainment and deliver meaningful results to our community in so many different ways.”
The Broward Center has earned a reputation as a leader in the performing arts industry, bringing the finest arts and entertainment programs to the South Florida region. With more than 700 performances each year for more than 700,000 guests, the Center serves as the cultural anchor of a vibrant downtown arts district. During Shanley’s impressive tenure, the Center continuously expanded its reach and impact, with a strong focus on education and community engagement.
“I am so proud of all that we’ve accomplished collectively, building the Broward Center as a strong, vital and beloved institution in South Florida as we fulfill our mission to engage and inspire the community through the arts,” said Shanley. “Over the past two decades, we have brought the vision of our founders to life in ways that I could not have imagined when I joined the organization in 1999. It has been an honor to lead this organization and an extraordinary team who continue to deliver on every opportunity and embrace every challenge we encounter. I owe a true debt of gratitude to the past and current members of the Performing Arts Center Authority and the Broward Performing Arts Foundation board for their trust and support throughout my tenure. To our public partners, our generous donors, our dedicated staff, our passionate volunteers, and of course, our audience members, I can only say thank you.”
Shanley is admired for his consistent commitment to innovation, allowing the Broward Center to grow in size, scale and impact. He redefined the role of the performing arts center through growth and development strategies that have enabled the Center to thrive. Under his leadership, the Broward Center expanded, pushing its boundaries literally and figuratively, the iconic Parker Playhouse took on a new role, and learning through the arts flourished through investment in an award-winning partnership with Broward County Public Schools. The Broward Center became the cultural epicenter of the community bustling with world-class entertainment, classes, innovative arts-based programs and events that ignited a cultural and economic transformation of Greater Fort Lauderdale.
“Kelley is a sought-after voice on the intersection of the arts and business and how the arts can effectively be used to advance broader community goals,” said Bob Swindell, President and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. “The Broward Center has been a true catalyst for economic development in the region during an exciting time of growth in South Florida. When I think about leaders who have most influenced how Fort Lauderdale has earned its reputation as one of the nation’s most desirable emerging 18-hour cities, Kelley’s is one of the first names that comes to mind. The Center’s impact on our quality of life far exceeds its local economic impact of $130 million annually.”
Shanley was promoted to president and CEO of the Broward Center in January 2009 and immediately took on the challenges of a major capital project which would renovate, renew and revitalize the venue. With his guidance, the Broward Center completed the ambitious $60 million Encore! project in 2015 that transformed the entire campus. The project returned the theaters to state-of-the art, added new performance, education and hospitality spaces and delivered exciting new ways for audiences to experience the arts. With the support of the Broward Performing Arts Foundation and the Center’s public partners, the campaign exceeded its fundraising goals and was completed on schedule and on budget. The Huizenga Pavilion, Marti’s New River Bistro, the Spirit Club Level and the Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center are all signature features of the successful project. The expansion also resulted in an increase of more than 110,000 annual visits and $14 million in additional revenue each year since completion. New premium spaces were added, including the all-inclusive experience now known as the Spirit Club Level, whose popularity is evidence of its success.
As part of a strategy to utilize the infrastructure of the Broward Center to support local cultural development, Shanley created an affiliated venue management approach that has leveraged the Center’s expertise. The first of these agreements was with the City of Fort Lauderdale to manage and maintain the iconic Parker Playhouse. Building on the principles of the Encore capital project, Shanley was also responsible for overseeing a $30 million project to revitalize The Parker, returning the 50-year-old entertainment landmark to state-of-the-art and addingnew hospitality spaces to redefine the patron experience. Beyond The Parker, Broward Center successfully manages the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center and the Rose & Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in agreements that further demonstrate Shanley’s collaborative style.
“Kelley has led a truly transformational period for the Broward Center, The Parker and the performing arts in South Florida,” adds Stern. “He is a passionate leader, an innovative community partner, a thoughtful listener and communicator, and an inspirational leader of a committed team. He inspired all of us to think big and reimagine the role the performing arts could play to build community – first for the Broward Center and then for The Parker – and he then led the way to realize that vision. We will miss him, but we know that he leaves an outstanding team, a strong foundation and a lasting legacythat we will build upon and move forward.”
The Broward Center has consistently earned a spot among the top ten theaters in the country from leading industry publication, Pollstar, based on audience attendance. In 2020, the Broward Center received a prestigious nomination for Theater of the Decade from Pollstar, an accolade that Shanley is most proud of because of what the nomination says about the organization. In addition to box office success, the criteria include superior talent booking, effective promotion, quality production values and staff, and providing an exemplary experience for fans and artists. “This recognition has demonstrated that our focus on the customer experience has hit the mark. I see it every day in a dedicated team that is committed to quality and delivers above and beyond expectations,” said Shanley.
In addition to driving economic development through the arts, with a thriving Broadway series, several Partners in the Arts whose programming brings dynamism to the stages, and entertainment series that range from comedy to jazz to classical to kids’ programming, Shanley has shown a willingness to bring new art forms to the forefront. He has also focused on arts in education, inclusion and engagement during his tenure. This commitment has brought initiatives such as Arts Access, Arts for Action and a Sensory-Inclusive Series to the Broward Center and its affiliated venues. These initiatives are guided by input from the community to ensure that the Center reflects and engages those it serves.
“Through Kelley’s leadership, the Broward Center has become one of the premier performing arts centers in the world. That was not by accident. Kelley has played a vital role in the evolution of the Broward Center for nearly 25 years. He is a superstar,” said Senator George LeMieux, chair of the Broward Performing Arts Foundation. “His commitment to the Center has been unwavering. With Kelley’s guiding hand, the Center has brought thousands of outstanding performances to millions of audience members. He embraced the power of the arts beyond the stage as a way to build community. As a steadfast partner in education, he paved the way for more than 3.5 million students to come through the doors for award-winning programs that are unique in the nation. He has taken seriously the stewardship of this community treasure. We appreciate all he has done not only for the arts but also for the broader community. He will be greatly missed.”
Shanley has been widely recognized for his impact in South Florida. In 2020, he was honored with the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts from the Carbonell Awards, which recognizes an individual or team that has contributed significantly to the artistic and cultural development of the region. In 2018, Shanley was named Downtowner of the Year by the Downtown Council of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce which honors individuals who have continually demonstrated strong leadership, direction and community involvement within the city. He was commended for working tirelessly to enhance the impact of the arts. Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale honored him for his role in the growth and development of Riverwalk Park and downtown Fort Lauderdale. He significantly contributed to the Riverwalk’s activation and enhancement through his service and dedication as a past chair of Riverwalk Trust, enriching the community culturally and aesthetically. He was also recognized with top leadership awards from the South Florida Business Journal and Leadership Broward Foundation.
“I’ve always encouraged our team to look beyond the walls, to explore beyond the boundaries,” Shanley added. “And now is the time for me to do just that, knowing I leave a strong foundation for the future.”
About The Broward Center for the Performing Arts
One of America’s premier performing arts venues, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts presents more than 700 performances each year to more than 700,000 patrons, showcasing a wide range of exciting cultural programming and events. Guest experiences at the Broward Center include the all-inclusive Spirit Club Level, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Intermezzo Lounge, special events in the Huizenga Pavilion, waterfront dining at Marti’s New River Bistro and innovative classes and workshops for all ages at the Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center. With one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the United States, the Broward Center serves more than 130,000 students annually. The Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Inc. receives and maintains funds to sustain, develop and secure the future of the Broward Center. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located at 201 SW Fifth Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. For more information, visit BrowardCenter.org.