Sheila Silverstein has been with The Harvester Performance Center since the beginning.
Silverstein, 67, said she has been in the industry more than 30 years and is ready to retire.
“I just don’t want to work full time anymore,” she said. “This really is a 24/7 business, and I want to be able to go home more, play golf and go to the gym.”
In 2014, Silverstein made the move to Rocky Mount from Baltimore, Maryland where she still has family. She came from the radio industry handling promotions and sales for four major metro stations, directing major concerts and promotions and developing sales efforts. As she set out in her position at the Harvester, she handled many of the same tasks as the “front of house” manager overseeing daily operations, marketing, accounting, staffing and volunteers.
She said it is the people she will miss the most.
“I will miss working with the artists and their managers, we developed almost a camaraderie as I knew many of them before I came here,” Silverstein said. “I will miss sitting and chatting like old friends.”
When asked, she couldn’t name just one favorite show or artist, she named a dozen that she has enjoyed, including Samantha Fish, Rick Springfield, Lonestar, Paul Thorn and Tab Benoit.
“There’s a million, how do you choose?” she said.
Apart from interacting with the artists, Silverstein said she has enjoyed getting to know people in the town of Rocky Mount and the volunteers at the Harvester.
“The volunteers really are the backbone of this place,” Silverstein said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with them. They are the heart of the Harvester.”
It was Gary Jackson, general manager for the Harvester, who brought Silverstein on board. The two had worked together in Baltimore for more than 20 years.
He credited Silverstein with putting the Harvester on the map.
“The Harvester wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for her,” Jackson said. “She is one of the most remarkable, talented, energetic human beings out there, and I will miss her terribly.”
Jackson explained there have been quite a few people who were against the Harvester in the beginning, and Silverstein stood alongside him through all the negativity.
“Sheila and I kept quiet through the negativity and we persevered,” Jackson said. “I knew there was magic here but it was an intangible thing. I believe we have succeeded on an economic development level and brought money into the (local) economy.”
Matt Hankins, assistant town manager for the Town of Rocky Mount and chief executive officer for the Harvester, agreed with Jackson. “We have literally grown from nothing to having (nearly) 25,000 followers online and an email distribution list of over 10,000,” he said.
Hankins also credited Silverstein with the development of a new ticket sales website — the third since opening the music venue — and added she has been efficacious marketing person.
“She is one of the best in the business, depending on which side of the fence you are on,” Hankins said. “She can be one of the most frustrating bull dogs and tries to get as much free or low cost (advertising) as she can. It helps to have a true pro like Sheila working for you.”
Silverstein said she felt it was challenging getting to know a new market coming from a big city like Baltimore to Rocky Mount, but in the end it is something she is pleased with.
“I am proud of how we have grown in the market,” Silverstein said. “We have grown our email database to more than 15,000 in six years.”
She says she will stay in Rocky Mount and wants to remain involved in the community. She said she will likely be working or volunteering somewhere.
As for the position, the assistant general manager is a town-paid position. Hankins said he is still exploring options at this time and no decision has been made. He said the position could be filled as is, or undergo a change of duties within the organization. He said he could also outsource for the duties as well.