New director for Mass MoCA

Kristy Edmunds, an experienced multidisciplinary performing arts leader, will become the new director of the Massachusetts Museum of Con...


Kristy Edmunds, an experienced multidisciplinary performing arts leader, will become the new director of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, known as Mass MoCA, in October. Edmunds, currently executive and artistic director of the University of California, Los Angeles’s Center for the Art of Performance, will replace Joseph C. Thompson, who helped found the museum and ran it for over 32 years.

“It’s a place that resonates with me,” Edmunds said in a phone interview, citing “how they create a pipeline to help artists dream the culture of the future.”

Edmunds said she would prioritize issues of equity and inclusion. “It’s mostly white in this part of the world,” she said. “But the diversity of voices in Mass MoCA’s programming is important and it will grow.”

While New England will be a change from Southern California for Edmunds, each institution’s annual operating budgets are similar – Mass MOCA’s annual operating budget was recently reduced to $ 10.5 million from $ 12 million due to the pandemic. The University of California center has annual costs of $ 8-10 million.

And Edmunds said climate change doesn’t bother her. “I lived in Minneapolis as a kid,” she said, “and I’ve always wanted to go back to the snow. “

At the University of California, Los Angeles, Edmunds has presented dance, theater and music as well as interdisciplinary and experimental projects that include visual and digital art. She said she would continue to serve as an artistic advisor, so that she could carry out a fundraising campaign for the renovations and opening of the university’s Nimoy Theater (in honor of actor Leonard Nimoy ), scheduled for next fall.

Previously, she was Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Arts Festival and Director of the School of Performing Arts and Associate Dean of the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne. She was also the executive founder and artistic director of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art and the Time-Based Art Festival (TBA) in Portland, Oregon. She was also the first consulting artistic director of the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.

In a press release, Timur Galen, President of Mass MoCA, praised Edmunds’ range of multidisciplinary projects “in different places and environments around the world”, as well as “his clear care and commitment to artists, staff and colleagues”.

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