This story has been updated with comments from Charles Phaneuf.

After more than seven years at the helm of Raleigh Little Theatre, executive director Charles Phaneuf will step down at the end of January to become the president of the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County.

Raleigh’s longest-running community theater—one of the nation’s, in fact, having operated continuously since 1936—has flourished under Phaneuf’s tenure, according to the press release it issued today.

When asked what he’s proudest of, Phaneuf laughs—”INDY Week Best of the Triangle, man!”—and then admits to increasing the theater’s operating budget from $1 million to $1.4 million, launching sensory-friendly performances, instituting film screenings and other events in the gardens of Stephenson Amphitheatre, expanding programming in towns surrounding Raleigh, and premiering a Mike Wiley play.

“The programming now reflects community more, and that’s part of reason we’re getting more community support,” Phaneuf says.

Under Phaneuf, RLT’s productions, in which a professional staff works with community volunteers, have often been favorably noted in the INDY, as have the organization’s social initiatives. We wish Phaneuf well in his new leadership at nonprofit arts-advocacy organization UAC, where he will replace retiring president Eleanor Oakley in February. The private nonprofit administers large artists-in-schools and grant-making programs, among others. 

“I really enjoyed my time at Raleigh Little Theatre, but I got excited about the opportunity to work on a larger scale with the United Arts Council,” Phaneuf says. “We have a City of Raleigh arts plan, but not a vision for the arts in Wake County. It’s an interesting, complicated county with a lot of great things happening, and UAC is the only organization that looks at the arts from county-wide perspective. With the county crossing a million people, it’s an interesting time to step into role like this, and a chance to impact larger arts-community policy.”

The board of Raleigh Little Theatre has begun a search for a new executive director.