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Performing arts leaders

Darci Hertz, left, has been hired as the finance director, and Matthew Haney, has been tapped to serve as managing producer at the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts.

A Kansas City man who is no stranger to Billings has been hired as the managing producer of the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts.

And a Billings woman with a rich history as a Certified Public Accountant has been named the organization’s finance director.

Matthew Haney, 32, and Darci Hertz, 41, are already working to move the organization forward.

NOVA is the new entity formed by the recent merger of Venture Theatre and Rimrock Opera. Its mission is to enhance the local performing arts culture through education, development and performance.

Lucinda Butler, vice president of the NOVA Center’s board, declined to say how much the two will be paid. She would say their salaries are “conservative.”

Haney has had several directing stints with Rimrock Opera, most recently with the sold-out Aida, the largest live performance ever staged in Billings. He bested nearly a dozen candidates for the position. His artistic background, which spans several performance genres, combined with his experience managing the business end of theatrical productions made him stand out from other applicants.

“There is a really exciting arts community in Billings,” Haney said. “The cooperation among the various performing arts communities is exciting and unique. Not many places in the country offer all these venues.”

Haney comes to Billings from Kansas City where he has spent the past seven years studying, performing and teaching drama, voice, musicals and opera. He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music with an emphasis in vocal performance. He is scheduled to receive his doctorate of musical arts degree from the University of Kansas in August.

During his extended business trips to Billings, Haney saw several productions at Venture Theatre.

“He knows how important Venture was to our community and promises to continue its tradition of performing new dramatic material alongside much-loved Broadway musicals,” Butler said.

Haney plans to expand the variety of performances offered at NOVA by expanding its operatic repertoire; creating an expanded Youth Conservatory combining Venture’s conservatory offerings with those of the former Rimrock Opera for Kids and revitalizing the Venture into Schools program.

He will be responsible for day-to-day operations, oversight of the artistic performances, outreach, volunteers and scheduling within the NOVA auditoriums and classrooms.

Before the merger with Rimrock Opera, Hertz oversaw the “Venture into the Black” campaign and was key to the merger’s success.

“Darci’s attention to detail and level of expertise were utilized during the theater’s transition period,” Butler said. “These skills are key to a fiscally sound organization and bring a high level of integrity to the organization.”

Hertz’s primary responsibility will be financial oversight of NOVA in addition to assisting the board of directors.

“I love to fix things,” Hertz said. “It will be a challenge but it’s a great organization that has done great things for the community.”

She has been involved in the music and theater community and an active supporter of youth and education. She has served on various boards, including the Montana Music Institute, Rimrock Opera, Yellowstone Art Museum’s Summerfair, PTA and Saturday Live.

Hertz has worked as a CPA in Billings for 16 years, specializing in work with nonprofits.

She earned a master’s degree in professional accountancy from Montana State University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting/finance.

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