Keith Alan Baker Steps Down as Studio Theatre Managing Director

A managing director shakeup at the D.C. theatre replaces three-decade veteran of the theatre with newcomer Meridith Burkus. Update: Keith Alan Baker comments on the transition.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: There’s a management change happening at Studio Theatre. Keith Alan Baker has stepped down from the positions of managing director and artistic director of Studio 2ndStage. Meridith Burkus, the theatre’s director of strategic initiatives, has been promoted to replace him in the managing director post.

Baker was a longtime presence at the Studio, having worked aside Studio founder Joy Zinoman. He first joined the theatre in 1986 as a house manager and directing student at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. Two years later, he was appointed as artistic director of Studio 2ndStage, the theatre’s production series for emerging and national talent.

On his transition, Baker said in an email to American Theatre: “I am extremely proud to have been part of [Studio Theatre’s] growth—both artistically and institutionally—over the past 28 years…. Working with the many artists, teachers, board members, donors and patrons of the Studio community, we created a legacy of artistic excellence and entrepreneurial spirit during the explosive growth here on 14th Street NW in Washington DC, the nation’s capital.

“I am also profoundly proud of the artistic output of Studio 2ndStage—a program dedicated to nurturing emerging and established theatre artists—and its impact on the growth and vitality of the DC theatre community over the past 26 years.”

Alongside Zinoman, Baker oversaw a number of the theatre’s major expansions, from its transformation to a two-theatre facility in 1997 to its growth into a four-theatre complex in 2004.  He was appointed managing director in 2003.

Meridith Burkus
Meridith Burkus

His replacement, Meridith Burkus, joined the theatre in May. She was previously the director of external relations at StoryCorps, the Peabody Award–winning radio program and national oral history project. She also served for five seasons as director of individual giving for New York’s Public Theater.

“It’s an honor to step into the role as Studio’s managing director at this moment in its history. I’m impressed by the breadth and depth of Studio’s work, as well as its legacy in revitalizing the 14th St neighborhood over the last three decades, all of which owes a great debt to Keith’s leadership,” said Burkus via e-mail. “We’re a great organization that produces world-class theatre in a vital neighborhood, and has expanded its offerings without having expanded its funding base—which gives me an exciting opportunity to energize new audiences and funders about our work. Studio is poised to make an impact on our neighborhood and city, as well as the field at large.”

Following Baker’s departure, artistic director David Muse will assume programming leadership of all of Studio’s programming. Speaking of his post-managing director plans, Baker said, “I am looking forward to taking some time off, and exploring personal and professional opportunities—a bit of a sabbatical.”

*This post is an update of a previous story.

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