ACT Theatre has a new managing director: Kevin M. Hughes, a Seattle government-relations and fundraising consultant with long ties to ACT...

ACT Theatre has a new managing director: Kevin M. Hughes, a Seattle government-relations and fundraising consultant with long ties to ACT.

“I started my career in Seattle 27 years ago in the ACT box office,” said Hughes, “so this is such a neat deal.”

ACT board president Brad Fowler said the self-employed Hughes bested about 50 contenders for the top administrative job at the 43-year-old Seattle theater.

“We feel we’ve found in Kevin a perfect blend of experience, high energy, great love for the theater, community knowledge and proven fundraising success,” Fowler said.

In the 1990s, Hughes spent seven years doing public affairs and fundraising for the Pacific Science Center, helping to bring in some $40 million for the local institution.

A Philadelphia native, Hughes was also managing director of Empty Space Theatre (1981-85), and for four years he was director of the Washington State Arts Alliance.

A past member of the Seattle Arts Commission, Hughes was honored in 1990 with a Corporate Council for the Arts Pyramid Award for his statewide advocacy of the arts.

He enters ACT as it enjoys critical and box-office success but carries an accumulated debt of more than $600,000.

“We need to work very hard to secure ACT’s financial foundation,” said Hughes, who succeeds Jolanne Stanton in the job. “I’m optimistic. ACT has all the resources in place — a great artistic director in Kurt Beattie, wonderful plays on the stage, a great staff, and the facility is first-rate.”

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com