May 10, 2023
Windsor, ON – Sheila Wisdom has announced her plans to retire after almost 10 years at the helm of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra as the Executive Director.
During her tenure, the musical tradition of the WSO has continued to grow with Music Director, Robert Franz and financial stability has improved as a result of a tenfold increase in the endowment and a new business model that includes operating the Capitol Theatre for the City of Windsor. The WSO also demonstrated its resilience during COVID when the executive team shifted from live performances to streaming music. Using the new video capabilities of the Capitol Theatre, the WSO created five online streaming series which kept staff and musicians working and also connected the WSO with audiences at home during the pandemic.
Wisdom’s relationship to the WSO goes back to her time on City Council when the mayor asked her to join the board of the Orchestra where she played a key role in steering the orchestra through difficult times. The former Executive Director of the United Way, Wisdom was lured out of retirement to the WSO to assist with fundraising in 2012 and was asked by the Board of Directors to step into the role of Executive Director in 2014. In addition to being a City Councilor and Executive Director of the WSO and United Way/Centraide of Windsor-Essex, Sheila Wisdom ran her own business, South Shore Books.
The reaction to her retirement announcement speaks to the impact she has had.
Maestro Robert Franz says, “Sheila has been an amazing colleague over the past decade. Her ability to unite people, her love of the art form, her understanding of our community and her boundless optimism have been an inspiration to thousands. I consider myself one of the luckiest conductors in the world to have worked alongside her. Her legacy at the WSO will resound for decades to come.”
President, Windsor Symphony Society Board of Directors, Deborah Severs says, “For the past 10 years, the WSO has been guided by the most caring, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable Executive Director in the history of this organization. With Sheila at the helm, the WSO and the Capitol Theatre have become a Tour De Force in the Arts and Culture community. Sheila is a tireless advocate for Heritage and spearheaded the preservation of the Capitol Theatre. She is fiercely protective of the WSO family, including our Maestros, musicians, staff in both the front and back of the house and the Board. She will be greatly missed!”
Wisdom will stay on until a successor is found. This will give the Board time to conduct a thorough search for a replacement. She will work with the new Executive Director to ensure a smooth transition.
“I have enjoyed working with committed volunteers, a dynamic, creative team, and a very talented group of musicians. This role combined two areas about which I am passionate: the WSO and the Capitol Theatre. Over the last decade I’ve witnessed so many changes at the WSO: new staff, a new home and Music Director, an expansion of education programs, two Assistant Conductors, expansion of the endowment, Memoranda of Understanding with the University of Windsor and St. Clair College, the creation of television studio capacity at the Capitol Theatre, the creation of landmark recorded and streamed music seasons and a global pandemic that did not slow us down!” says Sheila Wisdom, Executive Director.
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