Filed under: Senior Staff
CENTER LEADERSHIP PROFILES: KEN HARRIS, Vice President of Operations
Executive team member Ken Harris is a key player on a vast field at the Adrienne Arsht Center. As Vice President of Operations, Harris plays a role in pretty much everything. From production to guest services to facility management to area development, Harris leads his staff to act as a cornerstone department, managing to interact and keep up with each of the Center’s other divisions.
With a BA in theater arts from SUNY Fredonia and a MFA in Drama from the University of Washington, Harris knew what he was going to pursue in life from the start. “My parents were Broadway fanatics and from an early age I’d fallen in love with jazz,” Harris smiles. As a child, Harris was brought along by his older sister, who was very involved with drama, to all of her school shows. “I would go and run up and down the catwalks,” he reminisces. “Being backstage was my favorite part.”
An avid fan of theater and music, Harris played the saxophone in the jazz band throughout high school: a hobby he claims helped him enormously to understand, appreciate and thoroughly enjoy music and its business. Shortly after college, Harris landed a job at Disney. “Prior to Disney, I worked for regional theater companies from coast to coast,” he explains, “Theater was always something I did and loved; Disney was something I fell into.” Hired as a stage technician, Harris quickly moved up the corporate ladder. There, he had the opportunity to create and operate shows, as well as extensively tour the country and the world. After spending nearly 20 years with Disney, Harris left Orlando with invaluable experience.
At the Adrienne Arsht Center, Harris preaches the importance of communication and “complete and total collaboration.” In order to conduct a smooth operation, Harris explains that “it is key and critical to understand an organization in total.” He impressively maintains steady interaction with not only Vice Presidents of other departments but with individual staff members as well.
At the Center, Harris has been able to implement both his expert knowledge and his love for the performing arts in perfect harmony. Among the countless shows he considers himself so fortunate to attend, Harris did reveal a favorite: “I would have to say my favorite performance here has been Ramsey Lewis and Al Jarreau: two jazz legends sharing the stage…at a place I work. [It was] just a moment of pride and exhilaration.” When asked if he had any performances in mind he hopes to see visit Miami next, Harris fell silent. After a while of deep thought he said: “I’m trying to think of what we haven’t pulled in yet! I’ve just been so exhilarated by what we have had here…But the exposure’s been so great and the diversity of Miami has really helped [as] the Adrienne Arsht Center has been setting a standard.”
Harris is personal and intimate with his work, drawing inspiration from pure passion. “One of the best parts of my job has been growing an affinity for sharing my experience and expertise to others growing in the field,” he automatically answers, and then jokes, “That, and getting really cool seats to shows!”
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