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Dower named ArtsEmerson executive director

Emerson College President Lee Pelton has announced that Rob Orchard will step down from his current appointment as Executive Director of ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage, Executive Director of the Office of the Arts, and Stephen G. Langley Chair in Theatre Management and Production in the Department of the Performing Arts, effective January 1, 2015, after which time he will serve in a part-time capacity as Founder and Creative Consultant for ArtsEmerson.

Currently the Director of Artistic Programs at ArtsEmerson, David Dower will serve as the new Executive Director of ArtsEmerson, Executive Director of the Office of the Arts, and Stephen G. Langley Chair in Theatre Management and Production.

“As the founding Executive Director of ArtsEmerson, Rob has created an enduring and vibrant cultural juggernaut for the City of Boston and Emerson College, having brought extraordinary productions to Boston from around the world, which we would otherwise not have had the opportunity to experience,” Pelton wrote in an email notice to the Emerson community.

Arriving at Emerson in October 2009, Orchard had previously served as Founding Managing Director of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) and subsequently Executive Director, and was the architect for the A.R.T. training institute and its relationship with the Moscow Arts School, as well as Director of the Loeb Drama Center at Harvard. At the A.R.T., where he worked with many of the world’s most respected directors, playwrights, and composers, he produced more than 200 works (the vast majority of which were premieres).

Orchard brought that same level of energy, creativity, and imagination to Emerson, launching the inaugural season of ArtsEmerson in fall 2010, barely nine months after his arrival. The concept was to bring a mix of established and emerging artists, ensembles, and works that were family friendly, from around the world. The founding principles were to be international in scope, adding value to the community by expanding Boston’s cultural landscape, supporting the development of new work and sustaining long relationships through multi-year commitments to artists, ensembles, and world-renowned institutions. A film screening series has been a part of the ArtsEmerson programming in addition to works for the stage.

Through his leadership of the Office of the Arts, Orchard has engaged and connected Emerson students with ArtsEmerson’s visiting artists. This access has included master classes, informal talks, classroom visits, and deeply discounted tickets, to name a few.

Combining the past four seasons and the upcoming 2014-2015 Fifth Anniversary Season, ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage will have staged 84 globally-rich and theatrically-diverse award-winning productions from eleven countries including Belgium, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Russia, South Africa, England, Scotland, Canada, The Netherlands, Iceland, Chile, Kuwait, Australia and France, forging long-term relationships with 39 artistic companies who have made ArtsEmerson their Boston home. Notable productions include The Merchant of Venice (featuring F. Murray Abraham), PSY, The Andersen Project, Mies Julie, Man in A Case (featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov) among others.

Highlights of the fifth anniversary season include Shakespeare’s Globe’s King Lear (featuring Joseph Marcell), Isango Ensemble’s The Magic Flute (a unique South African take on Mozart’s classic), and one of only two post-Broadway engagements of The Trip To Bountiful (Horton Foote’s beloved American classic, featuring Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, and Blair Underwood), and Green Porno Live on Stage featuring art-house luminary Isabella Rossellini.

Before coming to Emerson, David Dower served as Associate Director at Arena Stage in Washington D. C., where he directed the Artistic Development team and founded the American Voices New Play Institute (AVNPI).  At Arena, he authored the revamped artistic strategy that debuted with the opening of its new facility in October 2010.

He served as Arena's artistic producer from 2007 – 2011, including the Tony/Pulitzer-winning Next to Normal and acclaimed productions of Oklahoma, Sophisticated Ladies, Ruined and A View from the Bridge. David also designed and directed the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) New Play Development Program and supported the development and premiere of seven new works including Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo and Tarrell McCraney's Brother Sister Plays. These plays became the subject of the PBS documentary Playwright: From Page To Stage.

Statement from David Dower: 

Dower“From the moment I first heard Rob Orchard's ideas for ArtsEmerson, I knew there was something special in the wings at Emerson College. He spoke of the rare confluence of these exceptional facilities, the location in the heart of the city, and the powerful context of an adventurous college focused on bringing innovation to communication and the arts. He saw both an opportunity and a responsibility to make all of these gifts matter: to the students, to the community, and to theater artists around the globe. It was more than a year later that my colleagues from HowlRound and I would join Rob here and we have worked side by side setting the conditions for this whole enterprise to thrive ever since. I am honored to now take on the stewardship of these important resources and to lead the team in achieving the full impact of Rob’s original vision– for our College, for the City of Boston, and for the field. I am grateful for the support of Rob and President Pelton in this endeavor, and for the strong partnership with HowlRound’s director, Polly Carl, which will sustain it into the future.”

Statement from Rob Orchard: 

Orchard“When David arrived two and a half years ago as our Director of Artistic Programs we knew we had a colleague who could eventually take over the leadership of the organization. His sensibilities are totally aligned with our founding principles and values and his vision is already having a profound impact on our work. ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage is now established. The next five years will be focused on deepening the impact of our work in the community. David's background and skills make him the ideal person to lead the organization at this juncture while I continue to play an active role as Founder and Creative Consultant under his guidance. By 2015 I will have been continuously active as a theatre producer and educator in New England for 50 years. It’s time to pass on the leadership of ArtsEmerson to someone with the capability of carrying forward the important work we began in 2010. Emerson’s partnership in allowing us to craft this organization was an enormous leap of faith and I'm proud of what we have been able to build together.”

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