Lincoln Center has appointed Shanta Thake, a longtime force of New York’s Public Theater, as its new chief artistic officer, a groundbreaking move that places a woman of color in the highest ranks of the city’s cultural establishment.
Thake, who identifies as mixed race, will spearhead the artistic strategy of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and its constituent organizations, including Lincoln Center Theater, the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet and the Juilliard School., among others.
The new position – the formal title is the Ehrenkranz Chief Artistic Officer – replaces Lincoln Center’s Artistic Director role occupied by Jane Moss for 26 years before she stepped down in 2020.
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According to Lincoln Center, Thake will lead programming decisions alongside staff and guest curators, “helping ensure a diversity of perspectives is woven throughout artistic endeavors—fostering openness, access, and building inclusive excellence into the heart of the institution’s programming.”
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Thake also will be tasked with launching the accelerated opening of Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall in the fall of 2022. She will assume the new role this September.
In announcing the appointment, Lincoln Center noted that Thake “joins Lincoln Center at a pivotal time in its history and will build upon its efforts to complement the work of its world-class constituent organizations, activate its full 16-acres to serve more New Yorkers than ever before, and support art forms under-represented on campus.”
Among those praising the hiring was actor and singer Audra McDonald, an alumna of the Juilliard School and member of the Lincoln Center Board of Directors, who described Thake as “a bold advocate for artists and the power of art to transform our lives.”
“As one of our city’s most innovative creative minds,” McDonald said in a statement, “she will be a strong voice to help lead the ongoing transformation of Lincoln Center. “With the greatest of esteem for her sweeping talent, her artistic fearlessness, and her collaborative spirit – and true excitement and optimism for our future – I am thrilled to welcome Shanta Thake to Lincoln Center.”
Thake previously was the Associate Artistic Director/Director of Artistic Programs at The Public Theater, and before that spent 10 years as the Director of Joe’s Pub, the Public’s cabaret venue.
“I’m so grateful to the Board of Directors and leadership for their support as I enter this role,” said Thake. “I moved to New York almost twenty years ago to the day, with big ideas about what was possible – this is really the culmination of a lifetime of deep love of New York’s cultural diversity, the palpable excitement and critical importance of sharing a cultural experience together.”
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