Ann M. Larson, new general manager for MetroCentre
By Edith McCauley
By Edith McCauley
In an interview this week with Ann Larson, new general manager for the MetroCentre, Davis Park and the Coronado Theatre, she voiced her positive impressions of Rockford. Moving here from Dallas, a city with a transient population, she is pleased to be in a community friendly and accepting of newcomers. Growing up in Wyoming, she values the spirit of cooperation that is found in a small town. Not that our city is small, but our values reflect that feeling.
When asked how she began her career, she said that managing a civic auditorium was not a part of her life plan. A beginning in marketing opened the door to a management position, and she thrived on the challenge. As director of a metro center in Cedar Rapids, very similar to ours, she began booking cultural events. In a theater very much like the Coronado, she brought in touring Broadway shows. Building an audience is difficult, but her determination paid off. Friends from Cedar Rapids are coming to Rockford to see the renovated Coronado, hoping to accomplish the same results in their venue.
In a move to the University of Wisconsin, she managed an 18,000-seat arena used primarily for sporting events, later expanding her supervision to nine other venues. While in Madison, Larson focused on developing an audience for cultural events that included symphonies and theater performances. Shes a good choice for our town in the midst of our River District renaissance.
After only two weeks, Larson is still getting acquainted, and her days are filled with meetings with the Centre Board, Mayor Scott, Kim Wheeler of the River District, and a dozen other people whose interests are crucial to the success of a thriving downtown. The Hall and Oates Concert on Sunday and NATs Romeo and Juliet drew crowds to North Main and State. Larson said, I couldnt believe there were so many people downtown on a Sunday night.
She leaves for Dallas this week to arrange for her household goods to be moved north. Larsons enthusiasm and energy are welcome additions to the core of people who see the potential for development in our city. Her past experiences prepare her well for the position of general manager of the Rockford MetroCentre. Her connections with those who book events, agents and production companies, as well as movers and shakers in the world of sports make up the network so vital to the job. If the community responds as positively as Ann Larson has in her first weeks here, she will do well.