WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS.: Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) has announced the appointment of Raphael Picciarelli as managing director of strategy and transformation, in a move toward a rotating collective artistic leadership model. The organization hopes this new model will ensure boundary-breaking and diverse programming, create new opportunities for emerging artists, and foster shared ownership of the festival’s artistic vision. In this newly created leadership position, Picciarelli will partner with fellow leaders as the festival enters its next phase of artistry with a focus on evolving the organization into a more sustainable entity.
Eric Gershman, who joined WTF as a management consultant in February 2023, will continue to serve as interim managing director of operations and advancement until a successor has been found. A national search has commenced for a full-time managing director of operations and advancement to lead all administrative efforts for the organization including support of the board, fundraising, marketing, and festival operations. The search will be facilitated by Tom O’Connor Consulting Group and a search committee that includes WTF artists, staff, and members of the board of trustees.
Jenny Gersten, who returned to Williamstown in November 2021 to serve as interim artistic director after the departure of Mandy Greenfield, will conclude her term at the end of the 2024 summer season. In celebration of her 15 combined years of service, Gersten will be honored on Feb. 12 at WTF’s 2024 Gala in New York City at City Winery.
“WTF is proud of its 70-year legacy of artistic excellence and innovation and is building upon it to develop a leadership model that serves the evolving needs of the festival,” said board chair Margaret Gould Stewart in a statement. “This reinvention is critical to ensuring that WTF can continue to deliver on its mission now and for generations to come.”
Raphael Picciarelli is a creator, producer, culture curator, and community gatherer energized by the possibility of personal transformation through art and community. Raphael’s career began in film and theatre production, where he was a collaborator alongside producers and creative teams from development to production. He then brought his storytelling skills to consulting, where he guided leaders and companies in the space between business rigor and courageous creativity. He’s worked with the likes of Deepak Chopra, Howard Schultz, and Sherrilyn Ifill to transform their respective organizations, and with companies such as Expedia, New York Botanical Garden, and Consensys to shape the experience, identity, and culture of their brands. He also served as the artistic director of The Misfits, a nonprofit theatre company in New York City, where he developed original work, while creating multiple projects for film and television with his creative partners. Raphael holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
“WTF is at an exciting crossroads as it embarks on reinvention,” said Picciarelli in a statement. “In our world’s realities of significant isolation, division, and disconnection, theatre as an art form and WTF as an institution feel more crucial than ever. I’m thrilled to join this organization and its team to help build a sustainable future on the shoulders of its powerful legacy. Together with our community, we will move forward toward a new way of theatre and artistic creation in the Berkshires.”
Williamstown Theatre Festival is a resident summer theatre festival held in the Berkshires. WTF aims to present unique opportunities for artists and audience alike, by revisiting classic plays with innovative productions, developing and nurturing bold new plays and musicals, and offering a rich array of accompanying cultural events. The festival further seeks to provide a training program in which emerging theatre talents collaborate with accomplished mentors in a vital, professional, and educational atmosphere. As of 2022, WTF had an approximate budget of $4.5 million.
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