PORTLAND, ORE.: Artists Repertory Theatre (ART) has named Kisha Jarrett the company’s managing director as part of a series of changes in anticipation of J.S. May’s planned retirement. May, who has served as managing director since 2018 and plans to retire as early as 2023 following the completion of ART’s capital campaign to revitalize its facility, will become the theatre’s executive director. Artistic director Dámaso Rodríguez will now have the title of executive artistic director. In her new role, which began Jan. 4, Jarrett co-reports to May and Rodríguez, while also having a direct relationship to ART’s board of directors.
This structured succession plan is modeled after similar setups in academic institutions, which identifies internal candidates for positions anticipated to be open in the future. The goal is to select an internal candidate, develop them for the leadership role, and, following board evaluation, fill the position without an external search.
“I’m thrilled by the transparency, foresight, and innovation exhibited by J.S. and our board of directors, as well as their wisdom in recognizing Kisha’s extraordinary management and leadership skills,” said Rodríguez in a statement. “This is the kind of stability and forward thinking needed to face the dual challenges and opportunities of devising the post-pandemic ART while simultaneously completing our capital campaign to build our new theatre home.”
Jarrett has been with ART since 2016, serving as the annual fund and events manager and marketing director before the pandemic saw her role expand to director of development and marketing. As managing director, Jarrett will oversee ART’s audience development, communications, fundraising, and administrative operations. May, as executive director, will handle the capital campaign, long-term organizational advancement, and the theatre’s transition to its new facility.
“Artists Rep is offering me such an extraordinary opportunity to help lead the organization into the future,” said Jarrett in a statement. “To work alongside an artistic director like Dámaso and have the creative input into steering this ship is a working relationship not usually found with managing director positions. I lean into my role as an innovator, and while I celebrate being a Black woman in this position at Artists Rep, our evolution is not finished. We have only just begun to make moves that challenge the traditional regional theatre model and we will continue to do work that challenges and inspires while we have ongoing analyzation of our operating model to ensure we truly and organically offer a shared space that reflects the diversity of Portland and the Pacific Northwest.”
Added May in a statement, “I always envisioned my time at ART as a four- to five-year project to help fund and build the theatre’s new home venue while cultivating support and visibility worthy of the art on its stages. While working hand in hand with Kisha Jarrett on everything from creating the new ART brand, to launching a new website and implementing new fundraising systems, I’ve watched her innovate and problem-solve while facing ever more complex challenges. I believe Kisha is poised to be an inspiring leader for ART and I wanted to recommend that the board begin now to plan for my departure, with Kisha in mind as my successor.”
Kisha Jarrett has a background as a creative changemaker in the fields of marketing and development over a 10-year career in arts management. She has helped fundraise over $50 million dollars for various organizations and a cumulative ticket sales revenue of over $5 million. A Virginia native, she has lived all over the country but now calls Portland, Ore., home. She is also a writer, director, producer, actor, musician, and storyteller. Her varied credits include performing and costume designing for both stage and screen, playing music at SXSW, and working as an independent bakery owner. She has performed as a storyteller for the Moth (2017 and 2018 GrandSLAM winner), Back Fence PDX, Seven Deadly Sins, Wildfang, and more.
Most recently, Kisha was seen onstage at Portland Center Stage @ The Armory as the Headmistress in School Girls; or The African Mean Girls Play, a co-production with Artists Rep. Kisha is proud to be a co-founder of the DNA: Oxygen program at ART. She is in the inaugural cohort of the LORT EDI Mentor/Mentee program and serves on the LORT EDI committee. Kisha is on the Literary Arts Festival of the Book Committee and has served as an event producer for Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA), Children’s Book Bank, Boys and Girls Club, Artists Rep, Live Arts, MTV Woodie Awards, Invisible Children, World Monuments Fund, and School of Visual Arts.
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