New Circus World executive director to tackle big issues - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New Circus World executive director to tackle big issues


BARABOO (WKOW)-- With eight days left in the performance season, Circus World board members have a new hope for the future.

They've hired a new executive director to help navigate through the rough waters after an attempted government takeover of their operations earlier this year.

"He understands the relationships that have to be built. He understands the relationships that have to be put back together again," board member Susan Lipp says.

Scott O'Donnell, the newly hired executive director, says a viable relationship with the Wisconsin Historical Society is still possible.

"Helping to be the conduit between the two and really letting them know what our plans are and involving them rather than sort of reporting after the fact," O'Donnell says.

The executive director was first introduced to Circus World in 2003, when he served two years as operations manager. Since then he has worked for the Ringling Brothers Circus, the Big Apple Circus and promoted concerts and festivals for Live Nation in New York.

He'll replace former executive director Steve Freese who left this Summer for a position with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau.

"It's a great honor. It really, in a sense, it's a way for me to come back to my roots," O'Donnell explains.

O'Donnell says he plans to start his new position in mid-September. One of his main priorities is to use new forms of technology to market this old form of entertainment, by revamping their website and focusing more attention on social media.

Board members hope he'll bring a fresh perspective to the position that will attract younger audiences to the site.

"He knows management. He knows government. He knows non-profit. It's the perfect combination," board chairman Jonathan Lipp says. "He's also a great guy. We've known him for a long time."

O'Donnell says his biggest challenge is solving Circus World's ongoing budget problems. He hopes to bring in more revenue by giving audience members more entertainment options during the off-season. He also plans to create an online system where members can buy tickets in advance.


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