#199 Rob Birman, Centrum Executive Director

(Airdate: May 5, 2022) Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Rob Birman, Executive Director of Centrum. Rob came to Centrum after 25 years managing symphony orchestras. It was flourishing under his direction. But like many other organizations, Centrum endured two years of being largely shuttered due to the pandemic. Now it looks like Port Townsend’s cultural jewel is poised to return with a full slate of conferences, seminars, classes and even concerts. Rob says it has been tough – revenue was down about 90% during the pandemic. But there were some valuable lessons learned. Centrum already had attendees from 17 countries and all 50 states. Under Rob’s direction, the team honed skills in online presentations, which will now become a permanent part of the Centrum experience.  He predicts a wider international and national presence. The ripple effect of in-person attendance is a real driver for the local economy. Big week-long sessions such as jazz or blues might attract over 700 people. Weekend concerts add more than 1,000 people. Let’s hope that the music will again fill the air at Fort Worden!