Craig Thomas Transitions to Chair of RAVE Board

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority (RAVE) has announced Craig Thomas will transition into chair of the board taking over the role from Mike Dunn. Dunn has led the organization since its formation in 2010 and will remain an active board member.

The nine-member board oversees the BMO Harris Bank Center, Davis Park, and Coronado Performing Arts Center with the mission of revitalizing downtown entertainment and was appointed by Rockford Mayor Morrissey, Loves Park Mayor Lindberg and Winnebago County Chairman Christiansen in March 2010. Both Dunn and Thomas have served on the RAVE Board as Chairman and Vice Chair, respectively, since its inception.

Dunn was previously employed by the City of Rockford and Winnebago County as Regional Director of Government Affairs. Today, Dunn serves as the Executive Director of the Chicago Rockford International Airport, a role for which demands are growing. RAVE’s solid foundation and positive trajectory, coupled with increasing demands on Dunn’s position at the airport, were reasons for the timing of the transition.

Under Dunn’s leadership, RAVE has set and achieved many of the goals identified in 2010 including reduced dependency on tax-supported sources, realization of new revenue sources, and improved collaboration among venues. Other achievements of significance include retaining SMG to manage the facilities and assuming management of the Coronado Performing Arts Center. Thomas has worked behind the scenes on major initiatives of the Board, including the recent $1.2M capital infusion from SMG into facility upgrades for the BMO Harris Bank Center. RAVE has balanced revenue goals with the desire to provide affordable or free family-friendly entertainment, launching popular series like Weekends in the Park, Friday Night Flix and Cinema Series at Coronado Performing Arts Center.

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey said, “Because of Mike’s direct leadership and the leadership of the entire board, major decisions were made to improve RAVE’s operations and to create new, outstanding entertainment options for our community.”-more

“It has truly been an honor serving the citizens of Rockford and Winnebago County, first alongside very smart and talented members of the Venue Committee and then as the Chairman of RAVE,” added Dunn. “This outstanding board has accomplished so much together, and I look forward to continuing to be an active and vocal member of RAVE during my term.”

“The leadership and direction provided by Mike, Craig and the rest of the board has been instrumental in the reinvigoration of entertainment options for our community,” said Gordon Kaye, RAVE Executive Director and General Manager. “We have significantly enhanced the facilities, improved the venues’ reputation to attract first-class acts, and provided affordable, family-friendly entertainment to our region.”

Having worked closely with Dunn on major initiatives, Thomas is confident RAVE is positioned for continued successes and anticipates no changes in direction or priorities for the organization’s efforts and activities.

“RAVE will continue to drive significant value for our region in terms of entertainment options, economic impact and engagement with our community and partners,” said Thomas. “I have enjoyed working with Mike these past several years and look forward to bringing the same level of commitment and passion to the Chairmanship.”

Thomas and a new Vice Chair will be formally elected at the next board meeting on March 27 at 11:30 a.m.

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