Writer...Nonprofit Arts Executive... Producer... Director... Teacher...  Theme Park Entertainment Executive... Creative Consultant

Matthew Schliesman / entertainingarts

Backstage with LILY TOMLIN, 2013.


Executive Director, Capitol Civic Centre, Inc., 2010-Present , (Manitowoc, WI)


Lead and/or oversee programming/production, fundraising and development, financial management, marketing, venue operations, property management, community relations, and strategic planning for this very busy 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation/performing arts center.  


Venue is home to a dozen area arts organizations. Company-produced programming includes premium performance season, student series, and special events. Oversee 12 FT and PT staff, and a large contingent of volunteers; report to Board of Directors. 


In 2012-13, led the first major building campaign for this 1921 historic theater property since the initial 1987 restoration, overseeing a successful $1.2 million fundraising and renovation project. 


2018-19 saw a second renovations campaign, Act Two, underway, which is raising $3.1 million to fund significant improvements to guest areas and services. These include lobby expansion on two levels, more than doubling restroom capacity, two new bars, elevator and grand staircase to second floor, all-new, more comfortable theatre seating, and house lighting enhancements.


In general , have guided stabilization of company finances and raised operational standards. 

De facto Managing Director of the Capitol Civic Centre Foundation, a separately incorporated nonprofit entity overseeing and growing an endowment on behalf of the Capitol Civic Centre.


Conference chair for 2015 Wisconsin Presenters Conference, hosting more than fifty leaders from regional performing arts centers for professional development activities.    


Externally: Board of Directors of Manitowoc County Domestic Violence Center; 2012 to 2015.  Serve on Board of Directors of the Lakeshore Planned Giving Collaborative: 2014 to 2018.  Appointed by Mayor of Manitowoc to several formal and informal committees relating to the re-energization and development of Manitowoc’s downtown district.

The historic Capitol Theatre, Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc, WI. 

Below: with Francis Kadow Hollywood Collection, Capitol Civic Centre. 

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark starring in KNOTT'S SCARY FARM stage show, 1997.   Executive Producer.  Below: at Knott's Berry Farm, 1996.

Entertainment Guide: Marriott's GREAT AMERICA, 1984.

ENTERTAININGARTS: Freelance Writer, Director, Producer, & Consultant, 2000 – Present (Los Angeles, CA & Manitowoc, WI)


CALIFORNIA: Offering a diverse range of services spanning show and event creation, development, and operations; management and strategic planning; writing and directing commissioned and “spec” projects; formation of custom training programs; company policy development; marketing and public relations support.  Clients included Paramount Parks, Busch Entertainment Corporation, Tales From the Crypt Productions, Thinkwell Design & Production, Heartbeat Productions, LEGOLAND California, Thomas-Gregor Associates, and the California Writers Club.  Also, developed numerous television project proposals as part of Glue Factory Media. 


WISCONSIN: World-premiere production of “Birch Hollow,” a 2-act play by Matthew Schliesman, produced and presented by The Masquers, Inc. to open their 85th season, November 12-14, 2015.  Development of "genealogical adventure story," -- THE SEARCH FOR GORDON continues.  Also, freelance services as writer and consultant. 

Vice President of Entertainment, Knott’s Berry Farm, 1994 - 1999 (Buena Park, CA)


Artistic Director and Executive Producer for America’s first theme park, directing and/or overseeing creation and presentation of one of the industry’s largest and most eclectic roster of original stage productions and events, including the world’s largest live Halloween spectacle—Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt®, the creation of dozens of original stage productions, including those for the licensed Peanuts® characters, and the presentation of many celebrity performances (Brandy, ‘N Sync, Hanson, Three Dog Night, etc.).


Managed division budget and capital controls of approximately $10 million per year.  Provided administrative oversight to all aspects of division; Entertainment division staffing peaked at 500 annually. 


Regularly performed as “executive on duty” overseeing all park operations; also served as a company spokesperson.


Division Manager, then Director, then VP.   Elected to Knott’s parent company’s partnership in 1998.  



Chair, IAAPA Committee, 1997 - 2000 (Alexandria, VA)


Served four terms as a Committee/Program Chair for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. 


Developed professional outreach programs for entertainment professionals from around the world, and led creation of the BIG-E Entertainment Award program.  Presented at international conferences.  

Manager of Park Operations, Entertainment & Show Programs, Paramount’s Great America, 1990 – 1994; In similar position under Marriott Corporation, 1981-1984 (Santa Clara, CA)

Directed Entertainment Operations, Park Wardrobe, and Guest Relations for Northern California’s premiere regional theme park.  Entertainment operations included in-house and contract productions, and a celebrity concert series.

Prior positions with same company as Production Stage Manager (1979-1980), and Stage Manager at Chicago location (1977 & 1978).


Assistant Professor, Theatre/Dance Department, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 1987 – 1989

Taught a variety of academic and performance courses; directed a wide range of stage productions including BURIED CHILD, PERSONALS, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSONS, and COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN. 


Coordinated theatre management and marketing functions; helped develop new arts administration curriculum; provided academic and career counseling.


Guest artist and lecturer for one semester; then accepted a tenure-track position following nationwide search.  Left after Fall, 1989 semester to return to California. 

LEFT: Director of COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 1987.

RIGHT: Director of MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSONS, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 1988.

LEFT: The young professor -- a long time ago. 

RIGHT: Director of PERSONALS, University of Wisconsin -Whitewater, 1989.

©2017 by Matthew Schliesman / entertainingarts

Favorite quote # 1: “If, after all, one cannot always make history have a meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.”

-- Albert Camus

Favorite quote # 3: “To get the fruit off the tree you have to go out on a limb.” -- Shirley MacLaine

Favorite quote # 2: “Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw as much paint at it as you can.”

-- Danny Kaye

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