Austin Theatre Alliance

Executive Director Ken Stein exits

Ken Stein
Ken Stein

After seven years of seeing Congress Avenue's sister theatres, the Paramount and the State, through floods, renovations, and countless screenings and appearances by legendary entertainers, Ken Stein is moving on. Come June, when the 2010-2011 season winds down, the executive director of the Austin Theatre Alliance will be heading to Dallas with his family. The Chronicle took the opportunity to ask Stein about his time with these venerable stages.

Austin Chronicle: What do you remember from first taking on the job?

Ken Stein: I distinctly remember being somewhat nervous when I first started. The first problem was making payroll and how quickly could I turn things around and get the cash flow to a place where you're not worried about paying staff. But what really terrified me? My second day on the job, I was standing in the auditorium of the Paramount Theatre, and I suddenly became this history freak, where I wanted to know everything about the building, and the more I learned about it, the more terrified I became. You know, it's a state landmark. It's on the National Registry. It's this icon Downtown. I'm a fifth-generation Texan, I'm supposed to take care of this state landmark, and I was less concerned with making payroll and more concerned with: Will I be able to save this building? Is it going to burn down, fall down, crumble on my watch?

So the first couple of months of the job, I was often at the theatre very late by myself, and people like to say that it's haunted, and I think those stories are great. I will tell you that it seems to have a life, and so when you're there alone at night, you feel like you're not alone. So a couple of weeks into the job, I remember stopping suddenly in the middle of wherever I was headed and saying out loud to the building: "I'm just here to help. I just want to take care of you." And from that point forward, it just seemed to start clicking. And leaving the job, what I'm most proud of is all the improvements I've actually made to the physical space. It's making me very happy to think that before I walk away, I'll have the State Theatre back open again.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Austin Theatre Alliance
Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival
Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival
In Austin's newest festival, stand-up finally gets top billing

Robert Faires, Feb. 3, 2012

Austin Theatre Alliance
Austin Theatre Alliance
Enter, stage left: new Executive Director Jim Ritts

Robert Faires, May 27, 2011

More by Robert Faires
Austin's Holiday Art Bazaars Are Still Bringing Good Cheer
Austin's Holiday Art Bazaars Are Still Bringing Good Cheer
Who wouldn't love a creative gift by an area artist or artisan? Here's where you can find them.

Dec. 4, 2020

Art Gets Its Seasonal Shopping Day: Artists Sunday
Art Gets Its Seasonal Shopping Day: Artists Sunday
Between Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, artists aim for a slice of the big holiday sales pie

Nov. 27, 2020


Austin Theatre Alliance, Ken Stein, Paramount Theatre, State Theatre

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle