NEW YORK: The Public Theater has hired Alexa Smith as its first senior director of anti-racism, equity, and belonging. Smith will join the Public in the newly created position in March.
“We are delighted to have Alexa Smith joining our team at the Public in this pivotal role,” executive director Patrick Willingham said in a statement. “Creating this new position has always been an integral component of our organization-wide Cultural Transformation Plan, and I’m thrilled to have Alexa on our team to amplify and contribute to this work.”
Smith recently served as the associate vice president for strategic innovation and special initiatives at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM). She managed the creation of and led the school’s cultural inclusion initiative to foster diversity, equity, and inclusive practices throughout the school. Through Smith’s leadership, the school established new performance requirements, including opportunities for underrepresented creators. Prior to that role, Smith worked in the school president’s office, serving on both the executive council and the president’s council. In 2020, she was appointed co-chair of MSM’s Pandemic Response Committee to help enable the return of students and performances the following academic year. In 2021, she served as MSM’s interim dean of performance and production.
In 2021, Smith received the Sphinx Venture Fund Award to develop the Duncan Williams Voice Competition, in partnership with MSM and the New York City Opera. The competition serves Black and Latinx singers and aims to eliminate barriers by providing funds to create audition materials, cover travel expenses, and offer cash awards. Smith previously served as the director of marketing at the New York City Opera and is an alumna of Sphinx LEAD, a two-year professional development program for arts leaders of color. A native of Louisville, Ky., Smith holds degrees in voice from Roosevelt University and the Manhattan School of Music, as well as an MBA from Boston University.
“I have always felt a sense of belonging while in the audience of the Public Theater, and I am honored that the company has entrusted me with ensuring that feeling for all members of their community, onstage and off,” Smith said in a statement. “The Public’s dedication to creating an anti-racist and equitable institution is exemplary. Walking into this role with that in place is tremendously meaningful.”
Smith was appointed after the Public’s nationwide search led by Axis Talent Partners.
Conceived over 60 years ago as one of the nation’s first nonprofit theatres, the Public Theater has long operated on the principles that theatre is an essential cultural force and that art and culture belong to everyone. The Public’s wide breadth of programming includes an annual season of new work at its landmark 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, the Under the Radar festival, and more. As of 2020, the Public Theater had a budget of approximately $55.5 million.
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