Lincoln Center, Seeking Wider Range, Names New Artistic Leader
Feeling the pressure to attract new audiences and rethink its offering even before it was upset by the coronavirus pandemic, Lincoln Center announced on Tuesday that it had chosen a reputable theater director to work in multiple disciplines as its next chef. artistic.
Shanta Thake, most recently Associate Artistic Director at the Public Theater, will assume the role of Artistic Director of the center, the country’s largest performing arts complex, as it strives to expand its appeal beyond classical and ballet music in genres such as hip-hop, poetry and songwriting.
Thake – who in Public has spent a decade running Joe’s Pub, a cabaret-style venue, and has recently started overseeing Under the Radar, Public Works and other programs there – said she was looking forward to ‘bring more popular and world music to Lincoln Center.
“The goal is extended reach,” Thake, 41, said in an interview. ” What is missing ? What have we left out? What stories are we not telling that make it seem like they are asking to be told right now? “
Lincoln Center owns the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet and other independent institutions, which are responsible for their own programming. But it’s also a full-fledged broadcasting organization, hosting hundreds of events each year and hosting the Mostly Mozart and White Light festivals, which were primarily devoted to the classical arts. The center and its constituent organizations clashed, sometimes in a tense way, for rehearsal and performance space, ticket sales and donations.
Thake will oversee the work featured by Lincoln Center and said in the interview that his classic rugged offerings will stand. “We’re not trying to erase history here,” she said.
But center officials say they are still working on the future of Mostly Mozart, who has been suspended amid the pandemic, with the exception of a few small events this week. In 2017, as it struggled with budget constraints, the center dissolved the Lincoln Center Festival to focus on reinventing Mostly Mozart, its summer brother.
Thake, who starts next month, replaces Jane Moss, who has played a key role in programming for almost three decades and left her role as artistic director last year – and who was also from the theater world. (The title of artistic director is new.) Thake is joining the center at one of the most difficult times since it opened in 1962. His woes predate the coronavirus: he struggled for years with executive churn and problems silver.
Then the pandemic wiped out tens of millions of revenue and forced hundreds of events to be canceled. About half of Lincoln Center’s 400 employees have been laid off or laid off, and its top executives have suffered pay cuts.
While many workers have been rehired and theatrical performances are expected to resume in the fall, the center will likely be struggling with the financial fallout for years to come. It remains to be seen whether the public will return to pre-pandemic levels, especially given the recent spread of the Delta variant of the virus.
Henry Timms, president and CEO of Lincoln Center, said the organization turned to Thake for his experience in creative programming across genres. “We wanted someone who could kind of help us think about new territory,” he said.
Timms said the virus would continue to challenge the centre’s artistic ambitions, but added that he believed audiences were eager to return. “There will be a great demand for what we’re doing and there will be a lot of re-imagining,” he said.
As infections have subsided in recent months and vaccines have become widely available, Lincoln Center has started to come to life, building several outdoor stages and transforming its square into a summer gathering place by covering it with a synthetic lawn. . When theatrical performances resume, the center plans to require vaccines for members of the public, production staff and artists. Children under 12 will not be allowed to attend performances as they are not currently eligible for vaccines.
Thake said she sees her mission as, in part, to “pick up the city that is still reeling from the ongoing trauma” of the pandemic. She said Lincoln Center could play a role in helping small arts organizations, such as sharing best practices for reopening the venue.
“I hope we can get to the other side all together,” she said.
Thake, whose mother is Indian and father white, said she is committed to showcasing artists representing a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Cultural institutions have generally been slow to respond to demands for racial justice in the United States. But Lincoln Center is one of the few arts organizations to show substantial progress in bringing more diversity to its senior ranks. People of color now make up about half of its leadership team.
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