Faculty & Staff

Jim O'Connell

Assistant Professor - Arts Management
Arts Management Coordinator

NFAC 158


  • A.B. Degree: Dartmouth College - Hanover, NH
    • ​​Drama/Government
  • M.A. Degree: University of Wisconsin - Madison School of Business
    • ​Arts Administration
  • ​Master Thesis: The Performing Arts Center as a Community Resource: Case Studies in Community Oriented Programming

Courses Taught

  • ARTM 195: Introduction to Arts Management
  • ARTM 395: Arts Management Seminar
  • ARTM 480: Arts Management Capstone: Externship 


After 22 years as executive director of Wausau, Wisconsin’s Performing Arts Foundation, Inc., managing the historic Grand Theater and Wisconsin’s most comprehensive local arts agency, Jim O’Connell began a new career in the Fall of 2014 teaching Arts Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Beginning in 1968, arts administration has brought Jim to some interesting places, including the negotiating table to move the NFL Cardinals from St. Louis to Arizona.  An alumnus of Dartmouth College and UW-Madison’s Bolz Center for Arts Administration, Jim has served on staff at Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center, the Wisconsin Union Theater and New York’s Lincoln Center, opened the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, and directed Arizona State University Public Events.
O'Connell was honored to resume his long-dormant acting career as George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in the 2013 production by UWMC Theatre, and to be invited back to portray Ian in the same organization’s 2014 production, The Other Place.


O’Connell was a founding board member and treasurer of the Wisconsin Assembly of Local Arts Agencies (now Arts Wisconsin), served for three years (2009-2011) on the nominating committee of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, completed a dozen years as a member of the board of Central Wausau Progress in June 2014, and is currently serving a term on the Advisory Board of UW-Madison’s Bolz Center for Arts Administration for the third time since 1977.  O'Connell was co-chair of the 1998 Midwest Arts Conference in Cleveland, OH. 

In 2001, he was honored by the Wisconsin Presenters Network as first recipient of its Michael Goldberg Leadership Award and was named that organization’s first emeritus member in 2014.  In 2010, he was named one of the community’s fifty “People of the Decade” by the Wausau Daily Herald.  Since O’Connell's departure from the P.A.F. in 2014, he has been named Badger of the Year by the Wausau Chapter of the UW Alumni Association and received the John L. Cook Memorial Award for contributions to the community from the Wausau Area Chamber of Commerce.


  • “The University’s Role in Quality of Life: A Cultural Perspective,” presentation as part of Pathways to an Entrepreneurial University, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, August 2014 
  • “Budgeting in a Resource-Constrained Environment,” workshop leader, Minnesota Presenters Network/Wisconsin Presenters Network joint annual conference, La Crosse, WI, June 2014
  • Keynote Address, Wisconsin Presenters Network annual conference, Oconomowoc, WI, June 2013
  • O’Connell has led and co-led workshops on contracting, budgeting, programming, fundraising and facility management for peer audiences of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the Midwest Arts Conference, Arts Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Presenters Network; and for students at Northcentral Technical College and on the University of Wisconsin campuses at Madison, Whitewater and Stevens Point.  He authored a glossary of industry terms for newcomers to the Midwest Arts Conference that has been used for nearly two decades.
  • He wrote a monthly column on arts events and cultural issues for the Wausau Daily Herald from 1993-1998 and has contributed articles on the economic impact of the arts to Wisconsin Counties magazine.


O’Connell's research interests include the economic impact of the arts and of event facilities, the (mis)interpretation of audience demographics, the evolution of the touring performance industry, and the recurring cycle of cultural building booms in North America.