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Victory Gardens Theater Names Ken-Matt Martin As Artistic Director

Ken-Matt Martin will officially begin his tenure at Victory Gardens Theater on April 19, 2021.

Victory Gardens Theater Names Ken-Matt Martin As Artistic Director

Victory Gardens Theater has announced Ken-Matt Martin as the next Artistic Director in the company's 46-year history, following a nationwide search that began last fall in partnership with Arts Consulting Group. Ken-Matt Martin will officially begin his tenure at Victory Gardens Theater on April 19, 2021.

Ken-Matt Martin was born in Little Rock, AR and began his life in the performing arts as a child actor after an appearance on Nickelodeon's landmark series All That. He received theatrical training at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Drake University (Musical Theatre/Journalism), and Brown University/Trinity Rep (MFA in Directing). Following a decade-long stint as a professional actor, he transitioned to directing and producing full-time, adopting the personal mission of using theatre as a catalyst for social change. Inspired by the Black Arts Movement, Martin co-founded Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, IA where he served as Executive Director until 2018. Selected directing credits include productions of Civil Sex by Brian Freeman, Mississippi Goddamn by Jonathan Norton, Tripping Over Roots by Jaymes Jorsling, Love's Labour's Lost, Prowess by Ike Holter, Shakuntala, tick..tick..Boom and a film entitled The Last Supper. In 2018, Martin was named Producing Director of Williamstown Theatre Festival, where he produced the world premiere productions of Grand Horizons, Selling Kabul, Before The Meeting, A Human Being of A Sort, Tell Me I'm Not Crazy, and revivals of Ghosts starring Uma Thurman and A Raisin in the Sun directed by Robert O'Hara. In the fall of 2019, he joined Goodman Theatre as Associate Producer, where he co-created and curated the Future Labs new play development program and also created and produced Live @ 5 during the pandemic. Since moving to Chicago, he joined the board of Season of Concern, and also serves as a consultant and anti-racism facilitator for New York City Center, Design Action, and Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Victory Gardens Board President Charles E. Harris II shares, "We are excited to welcome our new artistic leader, and the vision he brings to Victory Gardens. We are confident that Ken-Matt will continue the theater's traditions of new play development and programming that spark conversation and social change, and look forward to deepening our core values of diversity, innovation, excellence, and accessibility under his leadership. While there are numerous challenges to overcome as we return to live production in a post-pandemic world, I am confident that Victory Gardens will thrive under Ken-Matt's direction, and will return better than ever."

"I am humbled and honored to have been named the Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theater," says Ken-Matt Martin. "I cannot wait to bring more ambitious and innovative new plays to the Biograph that will feature our brilliant Chicago artists and playwrights, and find continued opportunities for theatermakers from across the country to develop their work here with us. I look forward to meeting and collaborating with the staff, artists, board and audiences who already love this great theater while also attracting new patrons, artists and collaborators. I am committed to ensuring Victory Gardens always lives up to its values as we enter this new chapter in its history. At a time where there has been so much loss and pain for our industry and the world, I am excited to chart a course for the future that positions Victory Gardens as an institution inspiring meaningful civic change within our city and nation."

Ken-Matt Martin was appointed to the position of Artistic Director after a six-month search, led by Wyona Lynch-McWhite at Arts Consulting Group (ACG). "ACG were fantastic partners in this search," states AD Search Committee co-chair E. Patrick Johnson. "They provided essential groundwork and information for the search committee, ensuring that the search process was as equitable, fair and transparent as possible."

"On behalf of the entire board, thank you to the search committee for its engagement and work," says Sidney Lee, AD Search Committee co-chair. "With input from not only the board and staff, but artists and members of the wider VG community, we have found an artistic director who reflects the values of Victory Gardens and will drive us forward in fulfilling our mission."

Candidates for the Artistic Director position interviewed with ACG and the search committee. Finalists met with the full staff and board, as well as invited members of the community for conversation and learning.

"We are thrilled to welcome Ken-Matt to the staff, and cannot wait to begin work with him," shares Acting Managing Director Roxanna Conner. "As we prepare for a return to in-person work, we look forward to the immediate impact Ken-Matt will have on our artistic and community programming, alongside his experience in driving equity at all levels of the organization."

Ken-Matt Martin was born in Little Rock, AR and began his life in the performing arts as a child actor after booking an appearance on Nickelodeon's landmark series All That. He went on to be educated and receive theatrical training at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Drake University (Musical Theater/Journalism), and Brown University/Trinity Rep where he received an MFA in Directing. Following a decade-long stint as a professional actor that included roles in plays and musicals at regional theaters and numerous commercials he transitioned to directing and producing full-time. His life in the theater led him to adopt the personal mission of using theater as a catalyst for social change.


Ken-Matt, inspired by the Black Arts Movement, co-founded Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, IA where he served as Executive Director until 2018. The company commits itself to the tenet of Sankofa, a word in the Akan language of Ghana meaning "return to retrieve" and is the only theater company committed to Black writers in the state of Iowa. Martin's producing and directing credits in Des Moines have received thirty-four Cloris Leachman Excellence in Theatre Award nominations, including two awards for Best Play and a Special Honor for Martin in 2016 for his exemplary service to the Des Moines arts community. Pyramid also received the Bravo Greater Des Moines 2018 Standing Ovation award for excellence in artistic leadership during Martin's tenure. Selected directing credits include productions of Civil Sex by Brian Freeman, Mississippi Goddamn by Jonathan Norton, Tripping Over Roots by Jaymes Jorsling, Love's Labour's Lost, Prowess by Ike Holter, Shakuntala, tick..tick..Boom and a film entitled The Last Supper, being released later this year.

In 2018, Martin was named Producing Director of Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF). Martin was previously the Bill Foeller Directing Fellow at WTF where he directed A Son, Come Home by Ed Bullins and Brotherhood by Louis Reyes McWilliams. During his tenure at WTF as Producing Director he produced the world premiere productions of Grand Horizons, Selling Kabul, Before The Meeting, A Human Being of A Sort, Tell Me I'm Not Crazy, and revivals of Ghosts starring Uma Thurman and A Raisin in the Sun directed by Robert O'Hara. Martin also negotiated the Off-Broadway transfers of Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow, Seared and Selling Kabul. Additionally, he negotiated the Broadway transfers of The Sound Inside (2020 Tony Nomination) and Grand Horizons (2020 Tony Nomination). After leaving WTF in the fall of 2019, Martin was named the Associate Producer of Goodman Theatre. Since arriving at Goodman he co-created and curated the Future Labs new play development program and also created and produced Live @ 5 during the pandemic. Martin served three years on the Board of Directors of Employee and Family Resources of Iowa. He also previously served as a member of Drake University's National Alumni Board. After moving to Chicago, he joined the board of Season of Concern. In addition to his volunteer work, he also serves as a consultant and anti-racism facilitator for New York City Center, Design Action, and Arkansas Repertory Theatre.


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