Toledo Ballet, Toledo Symphony Appoint Vanessa Gardner as New Director of Marketing and Communications

Published Monday, August 24, 2020 3:00 pm

The Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) announced this morning that Vanessa Gardner will join the organization as its new Director of Marketing & Communications beginning October 5, 2020.

“I am thrilled to welcome Vanessa to the Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony,” says Zak Vassar, TAPA’s President & CEO. “Her reputation in the industry is excellent, and I have been impressed with her creativity and commitment to our art forms for several years. We are lucky to add her experience and perspective to our organization, especially at this critical time.”

“The number one thing that drew me to TAPA was the people,” says Gardner. “Everyone works towards a common goal, supports one another, and promotes the arts in the community. I’m excited to bring dancers, musicians, and artists back to the stage and online so that more people can access the Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony than ever before.”

Vanessa will be a member of the TAPA’s senior leadership team. She will be responsible for designing and executing the organization’s marketing strategy, including annual earned revenue campaigns, public relations, communications, branding, and content marketing. She will lead the marketing team and, in partnership with the President & CEO, guide marketing vision for the organization.

For more information, please contact Allie Dresser, Marketing Manager for the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts at


Originally from the Rio Grande Valley by way of Canada, Vanessa Gardner brings more than twenty years of orchestra management and performance experience. She has extensive arts marketing experience, including patron profiling work, digital strategy, social media planning, audience engagement, and branding.

Most recently, Vanessa served as the Executive Director of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra (ETSO) in Tyler, TX. In her time at ETSO, she led the organization from financial crisis to solid footing through improved community awareness, increased online engagement, and strategic audience development. She was singularly responsible for overhauling ETSO’s brand identity including the redesign and content management of ETSO’s website, a new logo, overseeing the design and production of all publicity materials, and creating and delivering engaging digital content across multiple platforms. Prior to ETSO, Vanessa held management positions with the Lexington (MA) Symphony, Northeastern University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and facilitated a summer brass intensive with the Atlantic and Triton Brass Quintets.

In October 2018, the League of American Orchestras selected Vanessa as one of twelve for its prestigious, year-long Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). The ELP is widely considered the orchestra field's premier program for cultivating the potential of rising professionals. Through collaboration across a national cohort, industry-specific leadership projects, and dynamic mentoring from top industry professionals, members of the ELP shape and influence the orchestra world as it evolves to meet changing needs and audiences.

Vanessa earned her Bachelor of Music in French Horn performance from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee in 2003. As a musician, she has performed with Boston Ballet, Symphony New Hampshire, the Vermont Symphony, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and the New Bedford Symphony, among others. She maintains a strong familiarity with the orchestral and ballet repertoire.

In her free time, Vanessa enjoys camping and cooking over an open fire, scuba diving, visiting the dog park with her miniature schnauzers, Skye and Layla, and keeping up on her long tones and scales.


Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony are the region’s oldest performing arts institutions. Toledo Ballet, celebrating its 81st year of dance instruction, is recognized as one of America’s finest pre-professional dance programs. The Toledo Symphony, celebrating its 77th season, is recognized as one of the finest regional orchestras in the country, employing 65 professional musicians, as well as numerous extra players annually as repertoire demands.

On January 1, 2019, the Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony officially merged to form the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA), a new non-profit organization dedicated to providing exceptional live music and dance performances and education for the region.

Combined, the Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony reach more than 260,000 individuals annually through performances and education programs. The series concerts (Masterworks, Pops, Dance, Chamber, Mozart in the Afternoon, and Family Series) are the critical underpinning of TAPA’s artistic mission and regularly draw people from 135 zip codes. Education programs, student performances and community concerts are held in schools, neighborhood churches, performing arts centers and community facilities throughout the region; many are offered at no charge or provided at a reduced fee to help expand participation. For more information, please visit


The Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts Releases New Streaming Apps for Apple TV and Roku

The Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) announced this morning the release of its new TAPA Streaming apps for Apple TV and Roku devices.

Toledo Ballet, Toledo Symphony Appoint Vanessa Gardner as New Director of Marketing and Communications

The Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) announced this morning that Vanessa Gardner will join the organization as its new Director of

Want to learn a new type of dance?

The Toledo Ballet offers classes in dance of ALL varieties. Whether you're looking for classical ballet training, or modern hip-hop, chances are we have a class for you!

Register Today

Our work is made possible by community supporters like you.
Thank you!