Richard Stein

Richard Stein is the president and CEO of Arts Orange County. During more than 14 years under Rick’s leadership, Arts Orange County has addressed the needs of the arts and culture community in Orange County, California by becoming a trailblazer among nonprofit arts councils worldwide-- augmenting traditional arts agency programs and services with its unique role as the community’s go-to arts consultant to government, education and nonprofit organizations. This has helped enable Arts Orange County to become a leading advocate for the arts and arts education on the local, state and national level.

Prior to his appointment at Arts Orange County in August, 2008, Rick transformed the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach into a major resident professional theatre over the course of more than 17 years as its Executive Director, growing it from an annual budget of $700,000 to $7 million, and producing more than 100 plays, including two national touring productions. There he also directed many notable productions, including several premieres.

Rick first came to Orange County in 1987 to serve as Managing Director of the Grove Shakespeare Festival in Garden Grove following a five-year stint as Director of Lincoln Theater at the University of Hartford (Connecticut), and holding management positions in two major symphony orchestras before that. Rick holds degrees in English from Columbia and Syracuse Universities and returned to Columbia for post-graduate study in drama on a National Endowment for the Humanities summer fellowship. He was sent to Korea on a cultural exchange by the International Theatre Institute-US, served on the executive committee of the League of Resident Theatres, and was a contributing writer to AMERICAN THEATRE magazine.

Rick is a past Chair of the John Wayne Airport Arts Commission (appointed by Orange County Supervisor Harriet Weider), past President of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals-Orange County Chapter, and past co-Chair (twice) of National Philanthropy Day-Orange County. From 2009 to 2022, he served on the board of Californians for the Arts/California Arts Advocates, a statewide organization promoting the interests of the arts community, including three years as its President.

He has been a guest lecturer at University of California, Irvine and California State University, Fullerton, and was a commencement keynote speaker at the Laguna College of Art and Design. He has served as a panelist or site visitor for the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, Western States Arts Federation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, Riverside Arts Council, New England Foundation for the Arts, Louisville Fund for the Arts, City of Pasadena, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, for which he also produced its State Arts Awards.

Although his career has largely been in the theatre, Rick’s first post after finishing graduate school was as Executive Director of a local arts agency, Oswego County Council on the Arts, located in Fulton, New York. Also, the theatre company he cofounded in 1977, Contemporary Theatre of Syracuse, continues operation today as The Red House, a highly successful producer of multi-disciplinary arts. He is a 33 year resident of San Juan Capistrano with his wife, Alison, an artist.