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Stephanie Ybarra.

Artistic Director Stephanie Ybarra to Leave Baltimore Center Stage

She leaves the post after 5 years, to be replaced on an interim basis by former Victory Gardens artistic director Ken-Matt Martin.

BALTIMORE: Baltimore Center Stage (BCS) announced today that artistic director Stephanie Ybarra will depart from the organization after five years of leadership. Ken-Matt Martin, who is directing the theatre’s upcoming production of Tiny Beautiful Things, will serve as interim artistic director.

Ybarra will serve as the new program officer in arts and culture at the Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. She will leave BCS on April 1.

“I’m humbled and honored to have the chance to serve the national arts and culture sector during this time of enormous challenge and opportunity,” Ybarra said in a statement. “My great comfort as I move forward is that BCS has a staff and board team, community partnerships, and an artistic network that are aligned and collectively reaching toward a bright future of their own imagining.”

A national search will commence to find the organization’s next civic-minded artistic leader.

“Stephanie has been a transformative leader of BCS during her tenure,” Sandy Liotta, the president of the BCS board of trustees, said in a statement. “Over the last five years, Stephanie and her team kept BCS open for storytelling through the hardest moments of the pandemic and amplified the theatre’s relevance and service to our communities by welcoming new voices into new civic conversations. We fully support Stephanie and know she will exceed expectations and make another major impact in her new role at the Mellon Foundation.”

Ybarra was appointed artistic director in 2018. Under her tenure, she expanded the scope of BCS’s programming by launching the Baltimore Butterfly Sessions, a civic dialogue series, and by leading Play at Home, a national grassroots commissioning project now housed at the Library of Congress. Under Ybarra, BCS become known for its commitment to anti-racism in the workplace, which was highlighted in stories by NPR and the New York Times. She also helped BCS drop liabilities by over 89 percent throughout her tenure and shepherded over $34 million in revenue, increasing the company’s assets by over $1 million. Additionally, she worked to expand and diversify the BCS audience, with 48 percent of audience members last season coming to the theatre for the first time. BCS also produced 10 world premiere works under Ybarra’s leadership and commissioned 14 new projects.

Martin, a director, producer, and artistic administrator, will begin serving as interim artistic director in April. “It’s an honor to join the BCS team during this time of transition,” Martin said in a statement. “I’ve come to know and love Stephanie’s work as a leader of change. Although I will miss having her at BCS, I am inspired to continue the work that she has done, and I’m looking forward to calling Baltimore a new artistic home for me while the team searches for the next BCS leader.”

Baltimore Center Stage, the state theatre of Maryland, provides high-quality theatre and programming for all members of the community, including youth and families. BCS ignites conversations and imaginations by producing an eclectic season of productions, through engaging community programs, and with inspiring education programs that provide active and open accessibility for everyone. As of 2020, the theatre’s budget was around $8.4 million.

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