NEW YORK CITY: Lincoln Center has announced that Shanta Thake will assume the new role of the arts complex’s chief artistic officer in Sept 2021. Formerly associate artistic director of the Public Theater, Thake will take on a new position that entails spearheading Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’s forthcoming artistic strategy. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the arts complex’s presenting arm, is one of 12 resident organizations on the campus, which includes Lincoln Center Theater, Metropolitan Opera, Juilliard School for Music, and the New York Philharmonic. Under LCPA’s direct aegis are the programs American Songbook, Great Performers, Lincoln Center Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Midsummer Night Swing, the Mostly Mozart Festival, Target Free Thursdays, the White Light Festival, and Live from Lincoln Center.
Thake has said she aims to build upon recent initiatives like Restart Stages and the GREEN, and to collaborate with organizations across the city to expand Lincoln Center’s artistic scope and public reach. This mirrors her past at the Public, where Thake oversaw initiatives like Public Works, Mobile Unit, Under the Radar, Joe’s Pub, the Public Shakespeare Initiative, and Public Forum.
Thake is also the co-director of GlobalFEST, a world music festival and nonprofit organization focused on fostering cultural exchange and increasing the presence of world music in communities nationwide. In this role, she received the William Dawson Award for programmatic excellence.
The new position replaces Lincoln Center’s artistic director role, filled by Jane Moss for 26 years before she stepped down in 2020. Thake will lead programming decisions alongside staff and guest curators to ensure a diversity of perspectives. She will also help launch the opening of David Geffen Hall in the fall of 2022.
“As co-chair of the search team for our chief artistic officer, I was so impressed with Shanta’s focus on the plurality and democracy of art—her wide and deep understanding of genres and styles, and her profound knowledge and respect for artists across traditions and backgrounds,” said Clara Wu Tsai, founder of the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation and co-chair of the search committee, in a statement. “Her experience comes first from a deep passion for the arts as a tool for communication and mutual understanding; I’m excited to welcome her to Lincoln Center.”
Said Thake in a statement, “I’m so grateful to the board of directors and leadership for their support as I enter this role. I moved to New York almost 20 years ago to the day, with big ideas about what was possible—this is really the culmination of a lifetime of deep love of New York’s cultural diversity, the palpable excitement and critical importance of sharing a cultural experience together. I look forward to building upon the tremendous legacy of Jane Moss, while undergoing a period of listening and discovery. I’m confident that together we can help elevate all the greatest parts of this institution and build upon them even further—growing a Lincoln Center where all New Yorkers feel welcome no matter your background and where artists can shine and develop their craft in innovative and exciting new directions.”
Prior to her most recent role at the Public, Thake spent 10 years as the director of Joe’s Pub. Thake has also served as the co-chair for the Association of Performing Arts Professionals conference in 2019 and 2020. She received a B.A. in theatre as well as a degree in management from Indiana University and currently lives in Brooklyn with her family.
“Shanta Thake is a bold advocate for artists and the power of art to transform our lives,” said Audra McDonald, singer, actor, alumna of the Juilliard School, and member of the Lincoln Center board of directors, in a statement. “As one of our city’s most innovative creative minds, she will be a strong voice to help lead the ongoing transformation of Lincoln Center. With the greatest of esteem for her sweeping talent, her artistic fearlessness, and her collaborative spirit—and true excitement and optimism for our future—I am thrilled to welcome Shanta Thake to Lincoln Center.”
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