San Francisco Performances Appoints Melanie Smith as New President
San Francisco, CA, May 10, 2016 - San Francisco Performances today announced that 25-year arts management leader Melanie Smith will become the new President of the highly respected, 37-year-old presenting organization, succeeding founder Ruth A. Felt, who will retire this fall. Ms. Smith comes to SF Performances after serving as Executive Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, having led the $2.5 million organization since 2006. She returns to San Francisco Performances, where she served as Director of Education/Artistic Administration for nine years after positions with Carnegie Hall, the Midori Foundation and Young Concert Artists. Ms. Smith was selected after a year-long search by the SF Performances Board of Trustees and an arts management recruitment firm and will begin her new role in August."Melanie's substantial and unique blend of experience in all aspects of arts management, her extensive and long-standing relationships with artists and the community, her lifetime of dedication to the performing arts and her previous leadership role with San Francisco Performances make her the ideal new President," says Patrick R. McCabe, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of San Francisco Performances. "She shares the vision and values of San Francisco Performances, is extremely experienced in all aspects of arts management and will build on our successes while inspiring us into the future as we continue and grow as a leading presenter in the Bay Area and nationally." Ruth A. Felt, founder of San Francisco Performances commented, "I am thrilled that Melanie will return to San Francisco Performances to lead the organization into the future. Few people know the organization and the national performing arts scene as well as she does. She is widely respected and beloved by artists, arts organizations and the arts community." "This tremendous organization that Ruth Felt, the Board and staff have built over the past 36 years is truly a phenomenon in the performing arts world, and I am honored to return to San Francisco Performances in this new role," says Ms. Smith. "For decades, Ruth and SF Performances have led the field in innovative programs, presenting established artists in intimate venues, introducing emerging artists and in creating meaningful and lasting relationships between community and performers through residencies and long-term initiatives that have enriched the Bay Area arts scene. I look forward to building on these successes and working with the incredibly talented and dedicated SF Performances team as we move forward."
About Melanie Smith
Melanie Smith is a leading performing arts executive with more than 25 years of experience in management and administration both in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York. She has proven expertise in program development, curatorial content and context, education, and community engagement. Her extensive experience in organizational development, change management, goal setting, strategic planning, fundraising and marketing have benefitted organizations including Carnegie Hall, San Francisco Performances, the Midori Foundation, Young Concert Artists and, most recently, the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Girls Chorus, where she has served as Executive Director for ten years.At the San Francisco Girls Chorus, Ms. Smith has overseen operation of the $2.5 million organization, which comprises several award-winning choruses, a nationally recognized model school and music education program serving more than 400 girls and young women from throughout the Bay Area and the six-story Kanbar Performing Arts Center, which houses the Girls Chorus, tenants, rehearsal and office space in San Francisco's Civic Center performing Arts district. She was responsible for completing a $6 million capital campaign and consolidating and increasing use of the Kanbar Center for the Performing Arts, the Chorus' rehearsal and rental facilities, secured significant funding from prominent national foundations, increasing contributed income, and establishing the Chorus as one of the Bay Area's 25 largest performing arts organizations. She developed ongoing relationships with prominent guest artists and composers, oversaw organizational branding/marketing studies and implementation of findings, initiated and launched digital communications and marketing strategies and programs. She inaugurated the Girls Chorus' first ever in-school outreach program and preparatory chorus program and was instrumental in securing invitations for high-profile performance engagements, including President Obama's 2009 inauguration, a New York debut at Lincoln Center and participation in the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial. In her previous role with San Francisco Performances, Ms. Smith served as Director of Education/Artistic Administration from 1997 to 2006. At SF Performances she engaged artists and directed multi-year residencies in chamber music, song recital, classical guitar, jazz, new music and contemporary dance, researched artists to meet specific programming needs, negotiated and administered artist/agency contracts, oversaw artistic and technical needs for all performances, identified and designed productive partnerships with organizations throughout the community and developed and implemented comprehensive education programs reaching approximately 12,000 participants annually. She was a founding Executive Director of the Midori Foundation, where she created and directed in-school performance series reaching more than 10,000 public school students in New York City annually. She led the development of organizational goals, objectives and long-range strategic plans, managed budget and administrative staff for New York and Tokyo offices, including a team of 45 teaching artists. In addition, she created sponsorship programs for foundations, corporations and individuals and increased size of Board of Directors by 300%. She began her career at Carnegie Hall as Executive Assistant to its legendary Executive and Artistic Director Judith Arron, from 1988 to 1992. She went on to serve as a Management Associate at Young Concerts Artists in New York promoting the careers of top emerging musicians nationally before returning to California in 1997, when Ruth Felt invited her to join the San Francisco Performances staff. Ms. Smith holds a BA in French and Voice from Cal State University Stanislaus and completed graduate studies in Non-Profit Management at the New School for Social Research in New York.About San Francisco Performances San Francisco Performances began its current, 36th season in September 2015 in a particularly strong place as it retook the stage of the Herbst Theatre, its principal venue, after a two-year renovation by the City of San Francisco. Founded by Ruth A. Felt in 1979, for 36 years SF Performances has offered chamber music, piano, contemporary dance, guitar, vocal recitals, and jazz concerts distinguished by an uncommon degree of artist/audience interaction. Over the years, SF Performances has presented more than 120 important debuts and premieres and dozens of newly commissioned works. SF Performances is highly regarded by artists, managers and colleagues worldwide for its artistic vision, creative risk-taking, unique thematic programs and the ongoing relationships it fosters between artists and the public. In addition to its mainstage programs, SF Performances' unique multi-year Artists-in-Residence programs sustain an ongoing presence in many communities. The Alexander String Quartet, since 1989 SF Performances' String Quartet-in-Residence in association with SF State University and the Morrison Chamber Music Center, established innovative chamber music studies for high school students and created an inspiring and ongoing Saturday morning series for adults. Beginning in 1997, successive multi-year resident artists in several genres developed additional programs in the schools and community, which continue and thrive. In support of its vision, stability and leadership, two major national philanthropic organizations announced multi-year support of SF Performances in 2015, including a four-year grant from The Wallace Foundation to engage and sustain new audiences and a two-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to increase organizational capacity. These grants supplement ongoing multi-year support of a $3 million annual budget from major funders including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Grants for the Arts of the City of San Francisco, the National Endowment for the Arts and other prominent Bay Area foundations, corporations and individual donors. Total income from all earned and contributed sources exceeded projections for the 2014-15 season by 17%, a strong measure of organizational stability and community support. Half of SF Performances' Board and Staff members have been with the organization from eight to 36 years and have worked together in all aspects of management, planning and programming. Looking forward, SF Performances will build on its strengths and successes to engage new audiences in new ways that address the Bay Area's rapidly changing demographics, including co-presentations with other organizations and presentation of younger artists in new formats and alternative venues.