Martin Semple stands in conversation

A Special Thank You to DCPA Chairman Martin Semple

DCPA Chairman Martin Semple stands at a podium

Martin Semple. Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

Five years ago on July 1, 2017, Martin Semple became only the third Chairman of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Yet he was anything but new to the organization. In fact, Semple, a partner in the Denver law firm of Semple, Farrington & Everall, has been the DCPA’s legal representative since before the company opened in 1979.

As an inaugural subscriber, he and his wife Jo, have seen nearly all of the 400+ productions of the DCPA Theatre Company as well as an enviable list of Broadway tours.

Semple joined the DCPA’s Board of Trustees in July 2007 and succeeded Dan Ritchie as Chairman a decade later.

Martin and Jo Semple pose for a photo

Martin and Jo Semple. Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

As Chairman, he oversaw a period of extensive change, ambition and resiliency. Under his leadership, the Board welcomed eight new Trustees, implemented an executive committee, and expanded the scope of its supporting Finance, Education, and Governance & Nominating committees.

Additionally, the organization embarked upon the most ambitious project in its Master Plan — the $57 million renovation of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, which included more than $31 million in bond funding from the City of Denver and a capital campaign that raised over $17 million including 100% participation from this board.

Also under his guidance, the organization launched Theatre for Young Audiences, which introduces tens of thousands of PreK through to third grade students to theatre; expanded Off-Center which reaches tens of thousands of patrons through immersive theatre; hired the DCPA’s first-ever Executive Director of Equity and Organization Culture, and led the board’s unanimous adoption of an Equity Statement.

Martin Semple stands in conversation

Martin Semple. Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

He proved to be a steadfast leader, first, to help the DCPA attract nearly 942,000 guests in its FY19 fiscal year; then, to offer thoughtful, compassionate guidance through a global pandemic, and finally, to catapult the organization into a period of recovery.

Known to employees as a kind man with an endearing Irish brogue, Semple placed a tremendous emphasis on the needs of employees. He and the Board approved funding to provide health benefits to furloughed staff during the pandemic, raised salaries as soon as possible upon the resumption of programming, and has even been known to dole out treats from an ice cream cart at company meetings.

Martin Semple poses for a photo with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Martin Semple and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

Semple also has served as President of the Helen G. Bonfils Foundation, a fund established to support the Denver Center, and will continue to serve as a Trustee of the DCPA as well as Chair its Investment Committee.

In addition to his contributions to the DCPA, he also is a member of the Denver, Colorado and American Bar Associations; Colorado School Attorney’s Council; National School Boards Association; Council of School Attorneys; American Bar Foundation; Doyle Inn of Court, and Master Bencher Emeritus. Past Board affiliations include Colorado Children’s Hospital Foundation (1985-1995; Chairman 1990-1992), Common Good Colorado (2009-2011), and National Council of School Attorneys (Chairman 2000-2001).

Martin and Jo Semple pose for a photo with DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden

(L to R) Jo Semple, Martin Semple, and DCPA President and CEO Janice Sinden. Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

Semple graduated from St. Patrick’s College in Thurles and earned law doctorates from Catholic University in Washington D.C. and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He specializes in public and private sector labor and employment law and represents nonprofit organizations, school districts and cities among other client groups. Additionally, Semple has served as an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Denver.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, we would like to thank Martin and Jo for their contributions to our 43-year-old organization,” said President & CEO Janice Sinden. “Their passion, generosity and leadership have helped the DCPA to be a vibrant cultural destination for residents, an economic driver for business, and a national leader in new play development and immersive work. Your contributions will live on in our incredible new facilities, the excitement sparked in new generations of theatre goers and the passion that you share with our theatre patrons.”

Semple will be succeed by Hassan Salem, Head of Commercial Banking for U.S. Bank, who will serve as the DCPA’s fourth Chairman beginning July 1, 2022.