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Victory Gardens Names Erica Daniels New Executive Artistic Director

The appointment of Daniels accompanies the creation of three new roles in the theatre’s executive structure.

CHICAGO: Victory Gardens Theater has announced a new management model, including the move to appoint Victory Gardens executive director Erica Daniels as the theatre’s new executive artistic director. Daniels will succeed outgoing artistic director Chay Yew. Additional structural adjustments will add the newly-created positions of director of education and human resources, associate artistic director, and general manager.

“We evaluated various scenarios to position the theatre for continued long-term success,” said Victory Gardens board president Steven N. Miller in a statement, “and we have come up with a new model that will accomplish this goal. On top of that, the roles that we created and the people we selected to fill two of them will undoubtedly allow us to continue to fulfill our core values and artistic mission.”

Along with the appointment of Daniels, Victory Gardens has promoted Roxanna Conner to the Ralla Klepak director of education and human resources. The theatre will conduct a national search to fill the remaining positions of associate artistic director and general manager, with the search being led by ALJP Consulting.

Erica Daniels. (Photo by Joe Mazza – brave lux)

“Dennis Začek had a vision for VG to be a big tent that would invite people in to celebrate new work and new diverse work,” said Daniels in a statement. “Chay amplified and embodied that mission and always led with Victory Gardens’ values of integrity, diversity, innovation and excellence. I am truly honored to be continuing his work of prioritizing the telling of stories by, for and about all people, and continuing our mission of creating an inclusive and diverse space for our artists, staff, board and audience. Through the past three years, Chay and I have worked together to grow the theater and the organization is very well-positioned, fiscally and artistically. In the immediate future, we look forward to working with ALJP Consulting to find a leadership team with diverse perspectives to bring the theater into this new moment.”

Erica Daniels has served as the executive director of Victory Gardens since 2017, having previously served as associate artistic director at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Daniels had joined Steppenwolf in 2001 as the company’s casting director and director of the school at Steppenwolf. Her casting background includes doing the original casting for Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway production of Airline Highway, the Broadway production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the original production of August, Osage County (for Broadway, the National Theatre of London, and Sydney Theatre Company), and the Broadway production of Superior Donuts. Daniels began her career as a casting assistant at Jane Brody Casting and has worked as an agent for Geddes, Arlene Wilson, and Shirley Hamilton.

“We can’t say enough about the value Erica Daniels has brought to the theatere since her arrival three years ago,” said Miller in his statement. “Erica’s leadership at Victory Gardens, coupled with her career-long artistic experience and her understanding of art and needs of the theatre, its staff and artists, made it clear that the future of Victory Gardens would be in the best hands with Erica as executive artistic director.”

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