Wells Fargo Center Director of Programming, Rick Bartalini, Has Left

Posted by Gretchen Giles on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 4:00 AM

This may not be heart-breaking news to the average person who enjoys attending live performances at Santa Rosa's Wells Fargo Center, but it's a heart-breaker to the average media person who enjoys previewing live performances at Santa Rosa's Wells Fargo Center and it actually may impact the average life as well. Rick Bartalini, the tireless caretaker to the stars, who sees to it that Lisa "Queen of Mean" Lampanelli has flower petals floating in her dressing room's toilet; who treated Dolly Parton like the pink-infused star she is; who worships Cher and Olivia Newton-John; and who has consistently pulled such acts at Lyle Lovett, Steely Dan, Diana Krall and other national tourers to our bit o' cowpatch will do so no more. His official release is below; we're awaiting some actual info from him on it. Darn it, Rick, you're going to be missed.

Rick with Johnny Mathis
January 27, 2010 | SANTA ROSA, CA | It was announced today that after 11 years at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, California,  Rick Bartalini has left his position as Director of Entertainment Programs. Bartalini was responsible for talent buying and oversight of over 50 annual high-profile entertainment events at the intimate 1,668 capacity venue.  In this role, Bartalini was responsible for nearly half the Center's operating budget.  Over the years he brought top level talent to Sonoma County which included such artists as Johnny Mathis, Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, George Lopez, Carole King, Steely Dan, Journey, Juan Gabriel, Marco Antonio Solis, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Ellen DeGeneres, Keith Urban, Diana Ross, Olivia Newton-John and others.

In 2007 and 2008, Bartalini negotiated deals to record and broadcast four national and worldwide television specials from the Arts Center featuring Kathy Griffin, George Carlin, Dana Carvey and most recently Lisa Lampanelli.  The Lampanelli HBO special aired in February 2009 before a worldwide audience of 2.7 million viewers (nearly the highest rated HBO special in history, 2nd only to Chris Rock) and was later released on CD and DVD.

Says Bartalini:  "I am grateful for the amazing 11-year run at the Center and I am very proud that, together with my colleagues Jeremy French, Chrissy Hall, the staff and Board, we created experiences artists and fans will never forget.  The theater is now ranked among the Top 60 Theaters Worldwide (Source: Pollstar) and I sincerely thank all of the artists, agents, managers and industry professionals who have partnered with us over the last decade.”

In 2006, The Press Democrat called Bartalini "a major reason the Wells Fargo Center, Sonoma County's largest concert venue, has raised its profile." Former Executive Director of the Center David Fischer said, "If rust never sleeps, then neither does Rick." Said Texas singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett, "We always look forward to seeing Rick when we come through." In 2008, the North Bay Biz Magazine said of Bartalini, "he’s helped put the Center and Santa Rosa on the map, consistently booking high-profile artists."“It’s been an honor to be a part of bringing these memorable experiences to my hometown,” said Bartalini.  “I look forward to finding another enriching outlet which will allow me to continue this work, whether it be in Sonoma County or elsewhere."

Comments (11)

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Mr. Bartalini worked long and hard to put the Luther Burbank/ Wells Fargo Center "on the map". I am a personal friend with three internationally known artists who have performed at the WF/LBC. When I told them of his leaving, they commented on Rick's passion to his job, He truly enhanced the Center's profile and all had commented on how he went out of his way to make each of their crew members feel special, helping them with setting up and breaking down, even having a personalized gift ready for all. They also lauded his attention to detail taken to make their dressing room "warm sanctuaries". As one artist remarked, Rick provided the "best backstage of any venue" that she'd ever played in 35 years. This particular artist was the #1 international female vocalist through the seventies and eighties. She's performed all over the world in stadiums, 40k seat venues, newly built venues, and her words are true. All venues paled to what Mr.Bartalini was able to provide. She even stopped her show in the middle of the performance to comment on Rick's brilliant efforts to make their stay "the best ever on the tour". Wherever Rick decides to continue his career, he will be an immediate asset to any theater lucky enough to get him. His special touch and finesse with artist relations will ensure that the big name artists will follow him to perform wherever he is working. This is a great loss for Santa Rosa's venue. I don't have to wish Rick good luck, as I know he will succeed wherever he decides to go. So instead I will say "Congratulations Rick", it is all ahead of you! Best, Gregory Power

Posted by Gregory Power on 01/29/2010 at 3:11 PM

As part of the entertainment world and living in Sonoma County for the past 28 years, I know the amount of work and dedication involved in the industry. During the past 11 years I had the great pleasure of meeting and working with Rick during his time at Wells Fargo. His knowledge and expertise cannot be easily replaced and sorely missed. He opened Sonoma County doors to a variety of performances previously unavailable in such a small market. Later, also, expanding into the Hispanic community. Bringing such names as Pepe Aguilar, Ana Gabriel, Juan Gabriel, Julio Iglesias, just to name a few. I am sure many would agree that he was a great asset to what Wells Fargo Center for the Arts has become to be as a leading venue for the headlining entertainiment previously enjoyed by long commutes to the Bay Area. I wish him the best where ever he decides take his experience and natural gift and congratulate whomever is fortunate enough to work with him.

Posted by Maggie Le Clerc on 01/30/2010 at 10:45 PM

I just can't believe the news. Sonoma County is losing a true leader in the entertainment world. You don't know what you're missing until it's gone. All the best to you,Rick.

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Posted by Jim Jacobs on 02/01/2010 at 8:20 PM

Yes, in deed a sad day for the Wells Fargo Arts Center. When I hired Rick Baralini at the (LBC) he worked and did what he needed to do, to get the job done. When I left to become an Executive Director of a theatre in LA, it was a very sad day for me only because of the loss of good, hard working friends/staff at the Center. From Rick Bartalini and Darla Meeker, to the Box Office Staff the programming department was on a great roll. I was so proud of Rick taking over the programming department and bringing in such great talent for the Community. The Center has some huge shoes to fill and I doubt they will be able to do this with the current staff. I wish the venue the best and Rick Bartalini even more.

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Posted by Bruce Spain on 02/03/2010 at 12:49 PM

I am shocked by the poor judgement of WellsFargo allowing the departure of Rick Bartalini. I do not know if he was fired or if he chose to leave. Either way was a big mistake. I have been lucky enough to attend several big time concerts at WellsFargo over the years and was able to witness Ricky provide over the top shows and service not only to ... See Morethe artists, but to the fans in attendance. WellsFargo made a huge mistake and whomever wanted /allowed Ricky out needs to be let go. They will not be able to provide the same service to the artists as Ricky does. I was lucky enough to be at the center when Cher was a guest in attendance to see a show. Now they won't be even able to have huge stars come to the center to see another performer. Best thing they could do was to get Ricky back on board, without him they have nothing.

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Posted by Jeff Cashdollar on 02/03/2010 at 8:12 PM

What is going on at the Wells Fargo Center? Why would they would let Rick walk away? That's what I want to know. Thanks to Rick Bartalini and his crew, there was finally entertainment worth staying in town for! Jackson Browne, David Byrne, Natalie Merchant, not to mention Carol Bernette, Joan Rivers and on and on!!! Eleven years ago, none of these entertainers heard of Santa Rosa, CA. What are you thinking? I just caught Lisa Lampanelli's HBO special, yes she is a potty mouth but the audience was packed and EVERYONE laughed their butts off! Wells Fargo Center, GET A CLUE, beg Rick to come back before you are forced to close your doors!!!

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Posted by Amy Brust on 02/04/2010 at 11:06 AM

Everyone has that moment in their life when for whatever reason it is time to move on. Rick will be missed at Wells Fargo Center, however having witnessed several changes in Director of Programming, I can say the Center will continue on just fine. Rick's predecessors at LBC all provided exemplary service to both artist and audience, and with that as a primary goal of the Center's selection committee, a suitable candidate will be found to continue with the tradition.

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Posted by David Azevedo on 02/06/2010 at 3:58 PM

Mr. Azevedo's comment really indicates just how ignorant a lot of people are regarding the history of the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. Under the leadership of Mr. Bartalini our venue has transgressed from a little known, "kill-a-day" stop for touring artists into one of the top 60 venues in the WORLD. Previous Directors of Programming provided us none of the world wide publicity Mr. Bartalini has generated throughout his career. We have seen several HBO specials and "A list" Artists who themselves have issued personalized letters criticizing the actions of the current Board of Directors. Word travels fast in the Artist Management community. Unfortunately, some people just don't understand.

Posted by Well Fargo Center Lover on 02/10/2010 at 3:40 PM

Those of us who have worked there (I did for thirteen years) know one thing with certainty, we are all replaceable. That knowledge wasn't from fear of losing our job. It was borne from working on a great team with interchangeable parts. Being on the list of Top 100 venues in the world is huge, not to mention being 59 on that list. Prior to Rick's tenure, I believe we made it to number two on the list of venues of our size in the nation. An important foundation from which Rick was able to build. And now, thanks to Rick, that foundation is wider and taller, and available for his successor to build upon. I have watched five Programming Directors work at the Center and each one built on the successes of the previous. There is certainly no reason to expect anything less from the next one. Ignorance is not seeing the steady growth the Center has made through it's entire history, especially in terms of expansion into new markets/genres.

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Posted by David Azevedo on 02/12/2010 at 12:08 PM

God forbid he would ever talk to the help here at Wells Fargo. Didn't make a lot of friends with his attitude.

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Posted by wells fargo employee on 10/18/2010 at 1:12 PM

Rick is doing better than ever! He is an amazing man both in business and personal life!

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Posted by Jimmy Corn on 08/19/2014 at 1:51 PM
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