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Meet Sue Dahling Sullivan of ArtWeek in Theater District

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sue Dahling Sullivan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Sue. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Through a combination of hard work, luck, risk-taking, and the great fortune of having some brilliant bosses and collaborative colleagues, I have enjoyed a “road-less-traveled’ career path where I am always learning, often challenged, and frequently inspired. I have worked for the U.S. Government, Harvard, Apple, a major advertising agency, and myself. But over 25+ years of experience have been in the nonprofit arts/cultural sector, primarily at just two organizations. The common thread is that I thrive in creative organizations with high growth/change-oriented cultures, and am happiest when part of passion-driven, hard-working, and talented teams. I have been at the Boch Center (formerly Citi Performing Arts Center and Wang Center for the Performing Arts) for about 13 years and worn many hats, but my role as the ArtWeek Champion is one of my favorites!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Working in the nonprofit sector, especially the arts, there is never enough time, money, or resources to accomplish what needs to be done. At one point, I decided to go to business school at Tuck/Dartmouth, thinking I would eventually become a self-made wealthy philanthropist (haha). But I guess I slept through the finance class where they taught you to make more money than you owe on your school loans, and I returned to the nonprofit sector – but this time with a toolkit of business skills that have been invaluable in finding solutions to diverse challenges. I am also a self-proclaimed generalist and that means I can play different positions on the team – and in today’s world of rapid change, that has been an asset. But at the end of the day, the benefits of working in the nonprofit/arts sectors make any struggles seem almost insignificant.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about ArtWeek – what should we know?
The Boch Center is a nonprofit innovator and guardian of iconic venues, providing arts, entertainment, cultural, and educational experiences to the greater community. Most people would recognize it as the steward of the historic Wang and Shubert theatres, showcasing an amazing range of performances and events. But few people realize that we are a nonprofit with award-winning education programs like our City Spotlights Leadership Program, a unique 7-week summer job program that employs/mentors 60 urban teens each summer. ArtWeek is another important example of a nationally-recognized community initiative that has helped define the Center beyond just the four-walls of the theaters while making arts/culture accessible to a broader community. In fact, after just four short years, ArtWeek has been recognized as a creative “must-see and must-do” festival by Expedia, Forbes, and USA Today travel – and is featured by the Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau as one of its top ten annual special events! Our fifth anniversary festival this Spring (April 27 – May 6) promises to be extra special!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Joe Spaulding, CEO/President of the Boch Center, and Jan Del Sesto, former Executive Director of Boston Lyric Opera have been incredibly generous and inspirational to me as bosses, leaders, mentors, and friends. My colleagues at both those organizations have also played starring roles thanks to their perseverance, creativity, and ability to keep a sense of humor through thick and thin. And of course, there are the countless board members, friends, family, colleagues, and even teen leaders who are the unsung heroes and truly deserve the spotlight!


  • ArtWeek events are FREE to $50
  • Over 60% of ArtWeek events are FREE and 90% are FREE or under $25.

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