A quick chat with Joe Hale as he departs his post as the Executive Director of the Dreamland.
N MAGAZINE: What are you most proud of from your tenure at the Dreamland?
HALE: Our talented staff. Our engaged and committed board. The fact that we’ve operated in the black the last four years. And our small but growing endowment.
N MAGAZINE: What movie, performance or production did you enjoy most during your time at the Dreamland?
HALE: That’s like asking which of my children I like the most! I love sitting in a dark theater watching a movie with a big bag of popcorn on my lap. I love our live broadcasts. I revel in our Dreamland Stage Company’s productions. The ongoing programs we’ve created and produced—Nantucket’s Got Talent!, Dreamland Storytelling, Dreamland Conversations, our Summer Deck DJ Series—they’re all so much fun. Personally, one of the most magical evenings was watching six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald on our stage in a solo cabaret evening. It was stunningly memorable.
N MAGAZINE: What was the biggest challenge you faced at the Dreamland that you and your team overcame?
HALE: Erasing an annual operating deficit and transforming the reputation of the Dreamland from a movie theater to Nantucket’s year-round film and cultural center. Last year we had over 2,500 screenings, programming and events at the Dreamland.
N MAGAZINE: What piece of advice would you give to the Dreamland’s next executive director?
HALE: Listen to the community. Lots of times they’ll tell you what’s wrong with your organization, but if you keep listening, they’ll usually also tell you how to fix it. I’ve found that one must be a good listener.
N MAGAZINE: Why was this new opportunity as president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum so appealing?
HALE: I wasn’t looking for a new job. Linda and I love Nantucket, and I was having more fun with the Dreamland than I thought possible. But there comes a time when you need to shake it up and respond to a new challenge and opportunity. I’m a big believer that we should be lifelong learners, constantly challenging ourselves with new experiences. This new job provides that challenge.
N MAGAZINE: Are you a car guy? If not, what’s the learning curve look like in getting up to speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum?
HALE: Please don’t tell anyone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that I drive a Toyota Yaris…I took this job because it is an opportunity to learn something new. I knew nothing about the movie business before I took the Dreamland job. I’m excited about the chance to get smarter about automobile racing, its history and the impact it’s had on Indianapolis and the world at large. And to translate those stories into experiences for people who visit the museum. I also look forward to collaborating and partnering with many of Indianapolis’ other cultural organizations.
N MAGAZINE: What are you most excited about with your next position and what do you hope to achieve?
HALE: The board of the museum is committed to rethinking the organization from top to bottom. Museums today need to be interactive, experiential, immersive and fun. It’s invigorating to approach this opportunity with carte blanche.
N MAGAZINE: What words of wisdom would you leave the Nantucket community?
HALE: This may sound cliché, but I doubt there’s a better place to live anywhere. I’ll especially miss the winters, when this island draws together and gives the term “community” real meaning. I hope Nantucket continues to embrace the depth and breath of the diversity we enjoy on the island today. And whatever we do on Nantucket, I hope we continue to push to make it the best it can possibly be. Expect excellence and you’ll get it.
N MAGAZINE: Nantucket has been lucky to come to know you pretty well over the years, but what’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
HALE: That I was a child who benefited from the charity of others, so giving back was instilled in my DNA from a very early age. Also, that I can’t think of a better evening than to have a dozen friends sitting around our dining room table eating a meal I’ve cooked for them.
N MAGAZINE: Any parting words?
HALE: We’re not leaving Nantucket—just taking a break. After forty-five years here, there are too many family traditions and celebrations that are anchored on Nantucket for us to ever think of leaving. I hope to stay involved in the Nantucket community and will certainly continue to support the Dreamland. We’re keeping our home here and will be back every chance we get!