Savannah Music Festival announces Gene Dobbs Bradford as incoming Executive Director

 Following a six-month international search, the Savannah Music Festival (SMF) Board of Directors announces the hire of seasoned arts executive Gene Dobbs Bradford as incoming Executive Director. Bradford leaves his longtime position of President & CEO of Jazz St. Louis for this role, and will begin full time in February of 2022, attending pre-season special events and working remotely with the SMF staff until his arrival.

“We are thrilled to welcome the talented Gene Dobbs Bradford to Savannah to lead our organization into its next phase as we continue to broaden our community outreach,” says Savannah Music Festival Board Chair Vicki McElreath. 

Bradford’s position reports directly to the SMF Board alongside Artistic Director Ryan McMaken. In mid-December, current Interim Executive Director Erin Tatum will leave SMF after more than seven years to launch a nonprofit consulting company and travel the U.S. with her husband. As Interim Executive Director, Tatum managed finance and development operations in addition to the execution of her previous Managing Director duties. 

“I have long admired SMF’s commitment to artistic excellence and music education, and look forward to supporting the growth of the organization’s year-round programming and community engagement,” remarks Gene Dobbs Bradford. 

Bradford will oversee the formation and implementation of the organization’s next strategic plan, will act as chief development officer and will lead the administrative and operations sides of the organization.

Gene Dobbs Bradford has been the President & CEO of Jazz St. Louis since February 1999. During that time he built the organization’s annual budget from $375,000 to $3.5 million, as well as led the organization through a $8.5 million capital campaign to develop the Harold & Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz. 

He has overseen the expansion of Jazz St. Louis programming and education and outreach programs, reaching over 170,000 students. His background also includes extensive experience in classical music performance organizations. Bradford has received many honors, among them the 2018 St. Louis Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts, St. Louis Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, Most Influential People in St. Louis, and the 2014 Nonprofit Executive of the Year by the St. Louis American Foundation. 

Under his direction, Jazz St. Louis received the 2006 Excellence in the Arts award from the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis. Its flagship program “Jazz at the Bistro” was named one of the ten great jazz clubs in the country by Wynton Marsalis in USA Today. In 1994, Bradford was chosen as Operations Manager of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and in 1995 he was promoted to Director of Operations. Prior to his time in St. Louis, Bradford served as Production Manager for the Honolulu Symphony from 1990 until 1993.


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