NEW YORK CITY: The Public Theater will welcome Freedome Bradley-Ballentine as its new director of artistic programs/associate artistic director. He will succeed Shanta Thake in the role, working alongside associate artistic director/ resident director Saheem Ali and associate artistic director/director of Public Theater productions Mandy Hackett. Having previously worked with the Public for many years, Bradley-Ballentine will return to the place he thinks of as his first artistic home after a seven-year tenure as associate A.D. and director of arts engagement for the Old Globe in San Diego.
“I am thrilled to welcome Freedome Bradley-Ballentine back to his home city of New York and his home theatre, the Public,” said artistic director Oskar Eustis in a statement. “Freedome has had a long and distinguished career in theatre, which included stints running the summer performances for CityParks Foundation and, most recently, encompassed the associate artistic director chair at the Old Globe in San Diego. I have known and admired Freedome since I moved back to New York 17 years ago. He is a wonderful and magnetic leader, with superb taste, deep values, and terrific management skills. He is a man of the people, who brings artistic vision, commitment to community, and an enormous generosity of spirit to the Public.”
During his time at the Old Globe, Freedome Bradley-Ballentine helped transform the organization’s vision and forge deeper connections with diverse communities. By placing the community at the organization’s center, he was instrumental in creating and promoting the Social Justice Roadmap, a five-year plan to increase equity, diversity, inclusion, access, belonging, and anti-racist practices. He developed and reimagined programs, while producing work featured on the Globe’s stages.
“It’s hard to overstate the impact Freedome has made on this theatre and our city over the seven years he’s been here,” said Old Globe artistic director Barry Edelstein in a statement. “He arrived just as the James Irvine Foundation injected major funding into our initiative to deepen our engagement with the many communities of San Diego who were not being served by our work. Freedome’s energy and passion were multipliers. They made manifest things that were only hopes, and they built enduring structures where there were only dreams…As a leader, he has encouraged and helped build a values-based and purpose-driven culture at the Globe. As an advocate he has been a hugely powerful voice in our ongoing social justice work. As a producer, he has shepherded extraordinarily beautiful and powerful work to every platform the Globe has. As a colleague, he’s been warm and open and funny and supportive and smart and steadfast and incisive. And as a friend, he’s been cherished, adored, and valued. Freedome is a man of integrity and grace. We’ll miss him. A lot.”
Bradley-Ballentine previously led the theatrical program for SummerStage and the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater in Central Park, both part of CityParks Foundation. He was also creative director of Creative Stages Entertainment, developing and producing Off-Broadway theatre. He holds an MFA in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College, a B.A. in Education from New York University, and served in the United States Peace Corps in Ethiopia.
“I’m so grateful and humbled by this opportunity,” said Bradley-Ballentine in a statement. “So many people prepared me for this moment. I stand on their shoulders. Professionally I wouldn’t exist without the Public. I started working at the New York Shakespeare Festival as a greeter while in college around the corner, now coming full circle; I had no idea how important that entry-level job would be on my life or how it would change me. I’m an acolyte in the belief that theatre can be impactful to an individual and transformative to our society. The Public has been there for me during every phase of my adult life. I’ve witnessed how it’s been integral to the people of New York. It’s an institution that is vital to this city and the world.”
The Public Theater was conceived in New York over 60 years ago as one of the nation’s first nonprofit theatres. Its programming includes an annual season of new work at its home on Astor Place, Free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, the Mobile Unit touring throughout New York City’s five boroughs, Public Forum, Under the Radar, Public Lab, Public Works, Public Shakespeare Initiative, and Joe’s Pub. As of 2019, The Public Theater had a budget of approximately $56.9 million.
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