Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp hires new executive director

Audrey Dwyer
Longtime local Nancy Nagler Engelken has been hired as the new executive director of the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.
John F. Russell

— Instilled with a passion for the arts at a young age, Nancy Engelken has fond childhood memories of visiting the opera and attending a variety of theater performances with her parents, who were passionate about music, theatre, dance and musical theatre.

Now, she’s returning to her roots as Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp’s new executive director.

“The arts have always been a part of who I am,” Engelken said. “It is an amazing honor to be part of Perry-Mansfield because this place has so much history and so much impact.”

Engelken started working part-time in her new role Sept. 1 and will assume a full-time position in October at the beginning of Perry-Mansfield’s fiscal year.

Previously, Engelken held managerial roles in the nonprofit, philanthropic, public and university sectors in Minnesota and Colorado. She has served as a program officer with The Minneapolis Foundation and was associate director at the Center for Rural Design at the University of Minnesota. Engelken also served as an aide to a St. Paul (Minnesota) City Council member and was a program coordinator with the city of Steamboat Springs.

Most recently, she operated her own consulting firm providing program development, research and grant writing services to national, state and local nonprofit and educational organizations.

“Her skill set, background, enthusiasm and her thoughts will strengthen all aspects of Perry-Mansfield from recruiting, financials and fundraising,” said Gary Wilner, Friends of Perry-Mansfield Board president. “We are absolutely thrilled she was available to come work for us.”

Engelken said her new position is a departure from some of her more recent work, which focused on issues of poverty, but is a change she embraces.

“The diversity of my background has really prepped me for this place because I’ve done a lot of different things,” Engelken said. “I worked a lot around issues of poverty for so long and those are issues near and dear to my heart. To work in the arts and a place like this with so much history and to apply my skills is just a dream come true.”

When Engelken first moved to Steamboat in 2004, she attended her first production at Perry-Mansfield’s Julie Harris theater — a cabaret performance by Andrea Marcovicci. Engelken recalls Marcovicci singing a song her mother used to sing when she was a little girl. Instantly, the performing arts school and camp resonated with her.

“It was some of that Perry-Mansfield magic that happens, and knowing people there at that performance created this incredible connection that a lot of people in this community have to Perry-Mansfield,” Engelken said.

Earlier this summer, Engelken helped submit an application for a National Endowment for the Arts grant, which will be awarded to the winning recipient in April. This direction, Engelken said, represents the type of new partnerships Perry-Mansfield hopes to pursue.

“It offers a chance for faculty and for arts education as a whole to integrate within classrooms and for local teachers and administrators to help students translate key concepts in fun and creative ways,” Engelken said.

Last spring, Perry-Mansfield received funding from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation to start this type of applied learning through the arts with Soroco High School. Through the grant, a visiting playwright led one of the school’s English classes.

Other goals Engelken hopes to accomplish include more community outreach engagement year round, increased opportunities for professionals to create new works during the non-camp season and the continuation of the New Works Festival and partnerships with area organizations like Bud Werner Memorial Library, the Chief Theater, Strings Music Festival, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and the Steamboat Springs Senior Center.

“There are always opportunities for great partnerships,” Engelken said. “We will look to other nonprofits and arts organizations in the area and find ways we can be more collaborative and expand what we are all doing to benefit the broader community.” 

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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