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Sound Theatre Announces Leadership Transition: Jay Woods As Associate Artistic Director - Artist Engagement At The 5th Avenue Theatre


Since Woods joined, Sound Theatre more than doubled its budget and fulfilled its plan to transition from an all-volunteer to paid, ten-person professional staff in 2021.

Sound Theatre Company has announced that after three high-impact years with us, Co-Artistic Director Jay Woods will embark on an exciting new role. Effective March 2022, Woods will become The 5th Avenue Theatre's Associate Artistic Director - Artist Engagement.

A visionary artistic leader regionally, Woods' transition also follows another milestone: directing The 5th's Winter 2022 premiere of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the theatre's first pandemic return to live performance programming.

"Although I am stepping down as Co-Artistic Director, you better believe I will still be very much attached to Sound Theatre as an artist," said Jay Woods. "I could never actually leave the place that has been so instrumental in cultivating the leader and creator that I am today. I believe in Sound Theatre and always will."

In 2018, Woods joined Sound Theatre as an Associate Artistic Director. During this time, she directed Sound Theatre's acclaimed productions of CITIZEN: AN AMERICAN LYRIC (2019) and REPARATIONS (2020). In late 2020, she was appointed Co-Artistic Director alongside founding Artistic Director Teresa Thuman. Navigating a global pandemic's upheavals and digital pivots, the duo consistently centered the work of artists - a tenet of Sound Theatre's mission.

Since Woods joined, Sound Theatre more than doubled its budget and fulfilled its plan to transition from an all-volunteer to paid, ten-person professional staff in 2021. The company provided paid pandemic opportunities to over 120 artists, many of them BIPOC and Deaf/disabled.

Woods' upcoming focus is artistic relationships in the musical theater community. Alongside The 5th's Orlando Morales (Associate Artistic Director - Community Engagement) and Bill Berry (Producing Artistic Director), she will develop long-term vision, goals, strategies, and policies for casting, creative team hiring, commissioning new musicals, and season planning.

"The entire Seattle arts ecosystem is very connected and no organization, large or small, exists without the others," said Berry. "We are thrilled to welcome Jay to The 5th Avenue Theatre knowing she has been an integral part of Sound Theatre Company and its growth over the past few years."

Sound Theatre continues to identify and nurture talent through its Arts Leadership Mentorship incubator program, which since 2018 has provided paid mentorship and on-the-job training for arts administrators who face barriers to technical theatre, playwriting, new work development, theatre management, and administration. The program has a regional ripple effect: Early in the pandemic, Woods spearheaded Seattle Theatre Leaders, a coalition encompassing over 50 arts organizations (including The 5th and Sound Theatre), united in an action-driven front during an ongoing racial reckoning.

In yesterday's Seattle Times exclusive, Berry said: "Jay created a space that allowed for really robust discussions amongst not only big theaters like The 5th, but smaller theaters that, frankly, were ahead of the curve."

Woods is no stranger to forging artistic homes throughout Seattle, including Seattle Rep, Seattle Public Theater, Intiman Theatre, ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery, Village Theatre, and ACT Theatre. She has been a guest lecturer at several universities, most recently Duke and Carnegie Mellon. Woods has also received a directing degree at Edinburgh Napier University.

"Jay has been a tremendous force within Sound Theatre and will continue to be a vital part of the Sound Theatre family," wrote Andrea Kovich, Sound Theatre's Board Vice President. "She remains a strong catalyst for change within the Seattle theatre community. We are excited for her and look forward to her incredible work during this next stage of her career."

"When I first met Jay five years ago in a program for emerging artists, she was already on her way to becoming the powerhouse she is today. Her gift for empowering arts practitioners has only grown stronger as stories of her brilliance and the care she puts into her work spread throughout Seattle's theater community," said Board President Shermona Mitchell.

Of their three-year working relationship, Woods credits Teresa Thuman as "one of the greatest blessings to ever arrive in my life."

The feeling is mutual: "Our partnership has been transformational for both of us. Jay's talent was immediately apparent; I'll never forget her reaction after telling her: 'You're already a leader: you just need something to lead,'" said Thuman. "I'm honored that Sound Theatre could provide a platform for Jay to grow, gain confidence, and develop skills for what is bound to be a rich, impactful future in theatre. We all benefit when individuals like Jay have access to resources and networks that organizations like The 5th can provide. That is how real change can happen."

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