Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

The Old Globe Launches Department of Arts Engagement, Led by Freedome Bradley-Ballentine


The Old Globe today announced a major milestone in an ongoing transformation of its institutional structure-the formation of its Department of Arts Engagement, along with the appointment of a new Director of Arts Engagement, Freedome Bradley-Ballentine, whose arrival in San Diego concludes a thorough nationwide search. Bradley-Ballentine will lead the Globe's work of forging new and deeper bonds with all the constituencies the Globe serves -- and aspires to serve -- in the region.

He will also be central to the Globe's work with The James Irvine Foundation's New California Arts Fund, an initiative designed to help arts not-for-profits better serve their communities, under which the Globe will be funded by a three-year grant of $1.725 million. This will enable the Globe to bring new kinds of work into the community and to look at the institution in deep ways that will help it mean more to San Diego and its citizens. Together these moves are significant developments for the Globe and for our city.

The Old Globe received confirmation of the grant from The James Irvine Foundation for their New California Arts Fund (NCAF). The grant's aim is to advance sustainable organizational transformation leading to expanded arts engagement. The Globe, along with five other arts institutions, is part of the second cohort of Irvine's NCAF, which supports arts not-for-profits in moving arts engagement to the core of who they are and what they do, leading to expanded participation in the arts among California's diverse communities. The NCAF made grants totaling $6.9 million to the six grantees: Alliance for California Tradition Arts, Dell'Arte, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, Riverside Art Museum, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.

Freedome Bradley-Ballentine's appointment coincides with, and will help shape, the creation of the Globe's new Department of Arts Engagement. All of the institution's existing education and community-based programming will be brought together there and aligned with a set of values centered on the dual propositions that theatre matters and that the Globe's work can and should be an asset to all of San Diego. Under Bradley-Ballentine's leadership, the Department of Arts Engagement will interact with every part of the institution as the organization imagines and rolls out innovative and exciting new ways to engage with a diverse cross-section of the county's population. This dynamic leader started in his new position on October 22 and is quickly proving a wonderful addition to the extraordinary institution.

"Since coming to San Diego three years ago, I've been determined to forge closer ties between the Globe and the many communities it serves so that our entire region can access and enjoy the special wonders of theatre," said Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. "In creating our Department of Arts Engagement we've now built an organizational structure that can sustain this work in a powerful and meaningful way. The generous support of The James Irvine Foundation, for which we are very grateful, will lend enormous energy to our efforts. And the leadership of Freedome Bradley-Ballentine will ensure our success. Freedome is a visionary, a man of considerable charisma, passion, and imagination. He believes, as all of us at the Globe do, that the arts are a necessary part of a full and rich life and that a great arts institution must labor in service of the widest possible community. His track record is one of innovation and impact, and I expect that the contribution he will make to the Globe and to countless San Diegans will be transformative, lasting, and real. I am thrilled to welcome him and his family to our city, and I look forward to supporting his efforts with everything I can muster. We're genuinely fortunate that he's here."

For eight years, Freedome Bradley-Ballentine was the Director of Theatrical Programs for the City Parks Foundation in New York City, a not-for-profit that works closely with the city's Department of Parks and Recreation to bring a variety of programs into the hundreds of parks in all five boroughs. Bradley-Ballentine curated, commissioned, developed, and produced original content for the iconic New York institutions SummerStage, the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, and the PuppetMobile. His work engaged an astonishingly wide variety of communities as both participants and spectators. Bradley-Ballentine and Edelstein worked together in the early phases of developing The Public Theater's Mobile Shakespeare Unit-New York's "Globe for All" tour. Prior to his work in the parks, Bradley-Ballentine was the Creative Director of Creative Stages Entertainment, developing and producing Off Broadway theatre festivals including Shade Theatre Festival, Frozen Bizarre Theater Festival, and Urban Pop Theater Festival. Bradley-Ballentine holds an M.F.A. in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College and a B.A. in Education from New York University, and he also served in the United States Peace Corps in Ethiopia.

"I am absolutely thrilled to have been appointed to this new and exciting program. The Old Globe is one of America's leading cultural institutions and has meant so much to the people of San Diego and the county itself on a macro level. My job is to engage communities on a micro level," added Director of Arts Engagement Freedome Bradley-Ballentine. "The Department of Arts Engagement has been charged with creating and presenting programs in and for local communities: communities where large swaths of people may have never had the opportunity to attend one of our productions in Balboa Park, which may feel to them as though art has nothing to do with their lives. Being at the vanguard of creating programs for such a prestigious organization and city is a thrilling responsibility. That this public institution has chosen to engage the city of San Diego with free arts programs speaks to their commitment to developing a more verdant arts environment."

The Department of Arts Engagement marks a major reorganization at the Globe. The existing Department of Education is transitioning into a new framework called Engagement -- a term that means connecting audiences to art in innovative, interesting, and unusual ways. The staff will consist of the Director of Arts Engagement, a Coordinator (an existing position), and an Arts Engagement Associate (a new position to be appointed by mid-2016). The Department of Arts Engagement will devise and execute all community engagement work, which will include: the Globe for All free professional Shakespeare tour; the Community Voices playwriting programand other participatory arts engagement activities; and Creative Placemaking in the Plaza, a new, long-wished-for initiative that will get arts groups, performers, and passersby in Balboa Park onto the Globe plaza to engage in artmaking and to watch performances and presentations. ("Creative Placemaking" is a term for the creation of art in public but non-traditional venues.)

A central component of the Arts Engagement plan is to forge a cohort of community partner organizations with whom the Globe will engage year-round as well as visit with our Globe for All tour performance on a single day. We will maintain an ongoing presence at the Community Partners' facilities through a range of activities. Some will be theatre-based: activities such as acting and writing workshops and the creation of performance projects curated by Bradley-Ballentine and overseen by Globe artists and staff. Other activities will be broader in scope and less related to traditional theatrical endeavors-the focus might be on communication and other life skills more generally, or on job- and career-related efforts. The driving impulse will be an open-ended inquiry into the myriad ways a large arts institution can leverage its creative resources in service of the specific needs of community-based organizations and their constituents.

Over a long history of work in the community the Globe has built relationships with many of these community-based organizations, with strong ties in particular to Ssoutheastern San Diego, home to the Globe's Technical Center. These relationships extend throughout San Diego County into populations downtown, south of the city, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border, in East County nearing the desert, and in North County towns. Community Voices and the Globe for All tour have injected new vitality into these community ties, as have the efforts of staff members working over the past two years to build bridges to underserved populations.

The Globe for All tour brings live, professional productions of Shakespeare to underserved and diverse multi-generational audiences in neighborhoods throughout the region. Performed free-of-charge in nontraditional venues including homeless shelters, senior centers, military installations, libraries, community centers, and correctional facilities, these productions give audiences an intimate, compelling experience that fosters a shared sense of community between performers and spectators. The inaugural 2014 Globe for All tour was a resounding success, with over 900 audience members seeing professional theatre, many for the first time. The tour played at eight community sites in 2014 and performed at 11 in 2015.

The Globe's existing education programming will continue, now under the supervision of the Director of Arts Engagement. Work that requires the creation of specific, school-mandated educational curricula (the materials that educators are to teach) will be designed by veteran Master Teaching Artist Lisel Gorell-Getz, who is intimately familiar with the work the Globe has been doing for many years with K-12 schoolchildren and who will continue to maintain the Globe's high standards within the new organizational structure. The programs that will be under her purview include the large and successful series of free student matinees and the sensory-friendly performances of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! for individuals on the autism spectrum and with special needs.

The Globe's Humanities programs -- initiatives that provide context and enrichment for existing audiences and that engage patrons more deeply in the work they are seeing -- will also continue. These include pre- and post-show discussions, program notes, lobby displays, panel discussions -- the things Edelstein calls "our 92nd Street Y-type programs," including his In Conversation and Thinking Shakespeare Live! events. Closely aligned with the expanded work of the new Department of Arts Engagement and executed in close collaboration with its staff, these Humanities programs will move into the Artistic Department, where they will be managed by Literary Manager/Dramaturg Danielle Mages Amato, who has been closely involved with them throughout her tenure at the Globe. She will work on these programs with staff throughout the organization, and in particular with Associate Producers Eric Louie and Justin Waldman as well as Bradley-Ballentine and Edelstein.

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, not-for-profit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful, and inclusive society. The Foundation's grantmaking focuses on three program areas: Arts, California Democracy, and Youth. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided over $1.5 billion in grants to more than 3,600 not-for-profit organizations throughout California. With about $2 billion in assets, the Foundation made grants of $73 million in 2014 for the people of California.

The Tony Award-winning Old Globe is one of the country's leading professional regional theatres and has stood as San Diego's flagship arts institution for 80 years. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barry Edelstein and Managing Director Michael G. Murphy, The Old Globe produces a year-round season of 15 productions of classic, contemporary, and new works on its three Balboa Park stages: the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage in the 600-seat Old Globe Theatre and the 250-seat Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, both part of The Old Globe's Conrad Prebys Theatre Center, and the 605-seat outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, home of its internationally renowned Shakespeare Festival. More than 250,000 people attend Globe productions annually and participate in the theatre's education and community programs. Numerous world premieres such as the 2014 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Allegiance, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and the annual holiday musical Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! have been developed at The Old Globe and have gone on to enjoy highly successful runs on Broadway and at regional theatres across the country.

Related Articles View More San Diego Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

More Hot Stories For You