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Staff Profile: SJP General Manager Seth Keyes

Seth Keyes stands about 10 feet tall and has a voice that comes up from the basement: he effortlessly projects presence. Okay, he’s not 10 feet tall, he just seems that way, but he does come by his persona naturally: Seth began acting when he was about four years old on stage and in commercials. The acting career eventually grew into directing, producing and presenting, working with legends like Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan and George Burns along the way.  His journey with performance has lasted his entire life.

Seth is the general manager of our performance venue in the berkshires, Saint James Place, seeking out and booking renowned international performers, local cultural and arts organizations, and events. In this time of Coronavirus, he was able to take time to answer a few questions.

Question: What’s going on at Saint James Place right now?

Answer: Like all performance venues, we’re open to working creatively with arts organizations, businesses and nonprofits. One organization has considered renting our stage and streaming the performance; another is looking at holding a performance with significant social distancing in the Sanctuary. [The Sanctuary – SJP’s largest space – can hold 275 people in good times.]

Q. Why do you think Saint James Place is amazing for performance?

A. There’s no other space in the Berkshires that has such outstanding acoustics for concerts – classical music is especially beautiful here. It’s an intimate space – the audience members feel like they’re right there with the performers whether they’re in the Sanctuary or the Great Hall.

Q. How do you book performers and events for SJP?

A. Saint James Place is a first-class rental facility, rather than a presenting or producing organization. Our job, for performances, is to facilitate the artistic visions of our constituents such as Crescendo, Aston Magna, Olga Dunn Dance Company, Berkshire Opera, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Close Encounters with Music, Clarion – Leaf Peepers Concerts, Jazz & Classics for Change, Berkshire Pulse, Berkshires Jazz, and more.  Additionally, our spaces are flexible enough to allow large group meetings for organizations such as Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Schumacher Center, special events such as the Great Barrington Arts Market’s Holiday Market and, of course, weddings.  We look to serve the entire community and welcome all interested parties to come and talk about their ideas for an event. 

Q. How did you get into performance booking and management?

A. I’ve been a presenter and promoter for 30+ years. I came up through the ranks at Ruth Eckerd Hall, a nationally recognized performing arts venue in Clearwater, FL, my old stomping grounds. I ended up there as the director of programming and was responsible for booking 150+ nights every year working with everyone from Mikhail Baryshnikov to Bob Hope to Itzhak Perlman to Johnny Cash. From there I moved on to the Playhouse Square Center in Cleveland, the second largest performance venue outside of Lincoln Center. My family and I eventually moved to the Berkshires, where I was able to work remotely for Innovation Arts and Entertainment, an independent, producer and promoter based in Chicago.  At IAE, I booked touring Broadway seasons for 14 North American markets, exclusively produced and presented all of Anthony Bourdain’s live engagements, produced William Shatner’s one-man show on Broadway and its 3 subsequent North American tours, handled approx. 70% of David Sedaris’ live engagements, etc.  Never a dull moment! We’ve lived in the Berkshires now for many years and I have my own promotion, production and consultancy company in addition to working with Saint James Place. We love the Berkshires and would never want to live anywhere else again.  

Want to book a performance or event here at Saint James Place? Now you know who to contact: Seth Keyes. You can contact him here.