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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Pamela Wardell stepping down as executive director of Reilly Arts Center, Ocala Symphony Orchestra

After nearly a decade of service as Executive Director of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra and the Reilly Arts Center, Pamela Calero Wardell has accepted a new role with the Jacksonville Symphony.

Starting in February, Pamela will become the Senior Director of Development with the Jacksonville Symphony. In a media release on Thursday, the Reilly Arts Center stated that its Board of Directors “stands in full and enthusiastic support of Pamela as she takes this next step in her professional journey.”

Longtime Executive Director leaving Reilly Arts Center Ocala Symphony Orchestra
Matthew and Pamela Wardell

Pamela and her husband, Matthew Wardell, are described in the media release as the “beating heart” of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra and the Reilly Arts Center. In 2015, the City Auditorium was renovated into the Reilly Arts Center, which created a new home for the Ocala Symphony Orchestra while providing a venue for Ocala and Marion County that now hosts more than 180 events per year.

Five years later, in 2020, the Reilly Arts Center took over management of the historic Marion Theatre, which now has more than 700 film showings a year, monthly music, and comedy shows. In addition, the theater is used by the local community for events.

“In that same year, Pamela and Matt displayed uncommon leadership as they stewarded the Reilly Arts Center – a venue that depends upon live, in-person performances to thrive – through the worst pandemic in our lifetime,” stated the media release.

In 2021, the Reilly Arts Center opened its Community Music Conservatory, which offers instruction to students of all ages and skill levels. The NOMA Black Box also opened, expanding the Reilly Arts Center’s programming and community offerings to include charity events, jazz nights, dance parties, pop-up art exhibits, and more.

Earlier this year, Pamela was accepted as one of six participants in the inaugural Anne Parsons Leadership Program, a mentor program designed to grow orchestra executives. In addition, she also graduated from the Essentials of Orchestra Management program through the Juilliard School.

“Pam’s impressive professional rise is, first and foremost, a testament to her excellence,” said R.J. Jenkins, President of the Board of Directors of the Reilly Arts Center. “But it is also a testament to the Reilly Arts Center’s commitment to making sure that our talented team has the room, the resources, and our blessing not only to grow, but to aspire.”

As Pamela prepares to transition into her new position with the Jacksonville Symphony, her husband will be stepping down as CEO of the Reilly Arts Center. However, Matthew will continue in his role as Music Director and Conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra.

“While Matt will be stepping down as CEO as part of this transition and the Wardells’ move to Jacksonville, I am absolutely delighted to announce that he has enthusiastically agreed to stay on in his roles as Music Director and Conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 2009,” stated Jenkins.

“It is hard for me to put into words how profound a calming effect this has had on me as I consider this transition, and I am grateful, both to Matt and to Pamela, for conceiving of an arrangement that affords Pamela the freedom to pursue this opportunity while also ensuring key institutional memory and consistency for our organization, our donors, and our patrons,” added Jenkins.

A national search for a new Executive Director is currently in the “late stages,” according to the Reilly Arts Center.

For more information, visit the Reilly Arts Center’s website or follow the venue on Facebook.