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Theatre Bay Area Announces New Executive Director

The national search process was led by ALJP Consulting and its senior consultant Leandro A. Zaneti.

Theatre Bay Area Announces New Executive Director

Following an extensive search and interview process over the last few months, the esteemed nonprofit Theatre Bay Area has selected Oakland resident Sean Fenton as its new Executive Director. Fenton begins his new appointment June 15. The national search process was led by ALJP Consulting and its senior consultant Leandro A. Zaneti. The firm is known for its commitment to values of diversity, equity, and inclusion and robust community involvement. ALJP's process incorporated the anti-racist practices that TBA is building into its organizational fabric and leadership.

"I'm thrilled for the opportunity to serve, especially during this time of immense change. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the arts community particularly hard, and the challenges facing theatre companies and individual artists are many," said Fenton. "But this community is tenacious and endlessly supportive of each other. We will come together. And with sustainability and growth in mind, and equity, diversity, and inclusion at the center of our values, I am confident the Bay Area theatre community will emerge stronger than ever."

"As we begin this new chapter of TBA, we are confident Sean will drive forward our commitment to racial justice and advancement of the Bay Area theatre community," says Theatre Bay Area Board President Dr. Anne W. Smith. "Staff, board, and community members have been inspired by Sean's deep passion for the theatre in the Bay Area, as well as his excellent ability to listen deeply, respond authentically, and build productive relationships."

A graduate of Stanford University with a BA in Cultural and Social Anthropology, Fenton has been a member of the Bay Area theatre community since 1998. Over the last two decades as an arts professional, he has worn many hats - as an actor, director, educator, administrator, and researcher/consultant. He has worked at theatres throughout the Bay Area, including TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, San Francisco Playhouse, Crowded Fire Theater, 42nd Street Moon, and Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company. His extensive experience in educational theatre and theatre for young audiences includes work at Bay Area Children's Theatre, Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre, and TYA/USA. And as a director and manager for the Intrinsic Impact program at WolfBrown, Fenton provided audience research services to arts organizations across the continent, including Arts Club Theatre Company, Center Theatre Group, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Silk Road Rising, and more.

"All these experiences give Sean insight into the unique challenges and opportunities present in this region of California," Smith noted. "We were impressed by his intensive knowledge of the field, fearless commitment to racial justice, and collaborative spirit."

The search process, which included extensive interviews, dialogue, meetings, and surveys with community members was funded in part by contributions from the Hewlett Foundation and the Brad Erickson Fund for the Future, established by TBA's outgoing Executive Director, Brad Erickson.

"I'm thrilled by this choice," said Erickson, who led TBA since 2003 before retiring in 2021. "Sean is the right person, at just the right time."

Founded in 1976, Theatre Bay Area's mission is to unite, strengthen, promote, and advance the theatre community in the San Francisco Bay Area, working on behalf of its conviction that the performing arts are an essential public good, critical to a healthy and truly democratic society, and invaluable as a source of personal enrichment and growth. TBA is committed to embodying and advancing the values of community, inclusion, service, impact, and organizational sustainability. To live out these values, TBA is committed to advancing the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion both within its own organization and in the larger field.

"For too long, the theatre sector has fallen short of being inclusive for all, despite even the best intentions," said Fenton. "But this TBA team and community are ready for change. Let's actively center historically marginalized voices, make amends with each other, and come together to build a more just and equitable theatre. Theatre Bay Area is for everyone."




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