[WATERTOWN, MA] It is with both pride and regret that New Rep announces that our Artistic Director, Michael J. Bobbitt, has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council, effective February 1, 2021.
During his relatively brief tenure with New Rep, Michael has led our evolution as a company that respects the importance of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA). In doing so, he has been an influential voice in theatre and artistic communities as we seek to develop a culture that recognizes that our differences are our greatest strengths.
Michael’s time at New Rep saw him lead the company successfully as it has endured the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also led New Rep’s response to the structural racial inequities revealed by the killing of George Floyd by uniformed police in June 2020, leading toward the development by New Rep of an encompassing series of anti-racist policies that have since served as a model for many cultural organizations.
Serving the New Rep community of playgoers, staff, artists and volunteer leadership, he developed a number of online and small-group plays and led important online conversations with a variety of national, regional and local artists.
Under Michael’s leadership, New Rep experienced a 26% increase in the number of playgoers, a 43% increase in revenue, a 33% increase in contributions, retirement of its debt, and addition of eight BIPOC Board members. Also, 57 BIPOC artists were hired in the last fiscal year, 74% of artists hired this year are BIPOC, and six BIPOC playwrights were commissioned with 3 world premieres. Michael led the creation of a monthly BIPOC healing space where 40+ BIPOC Artists have participated, and a forum for over 90 Boston-area Artistic Directors who gather twice a month to discuss the industry and its needs.
In commenting on Michael’s departure as Artistic Director and assumption of the Mass Cultural Council Executive Director role, Jo Trompet, the chair of New Rep’s Board, said: “This is truly a bittersweet moment for the New Rep family. We are happy that Michael will now have a role in which his leadership and motivational skills can influence the cultural and artistic communities across our state. And we are proud to have recruited Michael to a state in which he has already made such a great impact. But we are sorry that New Rep itself is losing his brilliant leadership.” Jo emphasized that “New Rep intends to stay on our course, building on all of the changes introduced under Michael. We will continue to challenge ourselves to become a place where everyone feels welcome.”
For the Mass Cultural Council role, Bobbitt was identified as the preferred candidate of the Council’s Search Task Force through an extensive, nationwide search led by Arts Consulting Group. The recommendation to hire, made by Chair Nina Fialkow, was enthusiastically endorsed by Vice Chair Marc Carroll and the members of the Search Task Force, and formally accepted this morning during a Special Meeting of the governing Council.
The search for a new Executive Director was launched by the governing Council in late June, due to the retirement of Anita Walker on June 30. Since July, Mass Cultural Council has been led by Acting Executive Director/Deputy Director David T. Slatery, in close collaboration with his Senior Leadership Team: Operations Director Jen Lawless and Public Affairs Director Bethann Steiner.
“We are thrilled to welcome Michael to Mass Cultural Council and look forward to working with such an engaging and accomplished leader,” said Slatery. “Massachusetts’ cultural sector is dealing with massive economic devastation from COVID-19, while simultaneously engaging in difficult conversations to understand how to collectively act to promote equity and ensure access for all. Mass Cultural Council is preparing to lead by example, and Michael is the visionary leader we need to guide the sector through this next chapter.”
New Rep’s search for its next Artistic Director will begin in January, 2021. The position will remain vacant until the organization’s new leader is found.