Ross Willits

Executive Director

Ross D. Willits has been a part of the arts and culture community in the Twin Cities for 30 years. He has been a playwright, dramaturg, director, singer, band leader, administrator, fundraiser, consultant, and board member for the likes of the Guthrie, Jeune Lune, SteppingStone Theatre for Youth Development, The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, and more.

He was part of the writing team that created Triple Espresso—a highly caffeinated comedy, a show that has been seen on stages all over the country for the past 25 years. He is currently Board President of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, the statewide arts advocacy organization that ensures that artists and arts organizations from every corner of the state can access state funding. He believes that when people and organizations work together for the benefit of all, great things can be accomplished.

For the past few years, he has been working with Theatre 55, the theatre company dedicated to showcasing the gifts and talents of performers 55 and over. In the darkest part of COVID, he produced a series of classic Raymond Chandler radio plays live on Zoom, then concert versions of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar at Caponi Art Park, and The Rocky Horror Show at Mixed Blood Theatre—all with singer-actors over 55. He contends that you have never really seen Rocky Horror until you’ve seen Dr. Frank N Furter (the Tim Curry role) performed by a 72-year-old in full drag! He has a doctorate in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota, where he focused on using theatre to create more peaceful, just, and inclusive communities. He has dedicated his entire career to that pursuit, and Alive & Kickin’s work that brings joy and community to an often overlooked population has inspired him anew.

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