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Arts Leaders Celebrate David Howse’s Impact on ArtsEmerson, Boston

David Howse headshot
David Howse

Leaders from across Boston gathered to commemorate the tenure of outgoing executive director of ArtsEmerson, David Howse, at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre on November 15. 

Howse, who is Vice President of the Office of the Arts and special advisor to the president for strategy and the arts, in addition to leading ArtsEmerson, and previously served as interim Vice President of Institutional Advancement, is leaving at the end of this month to become the president of California College of the Arts in San Francisco. 

Reflecting on his departure, Howse shared a heartfelt thanks to the city and the College.

“As I bid adieu to Boston, I do so with great pride in our accomplishments and great anticipation for what lies ahead. I am confident that new paths will be forged and the transformative power for arts will continue to guide us. This city owes me nothing and as I take my leave I owe a debt of gratitude to Boston and Emerson College. Both have been a place of growth, learning, and transformation.” 

ArtsEmerson Director of Artistic Programming Ronee Penoi, who will serve as interim Executive Director of ArtsEmerson and interim VP of Office of the Arts on Howse’s departure, emphasized a defining quality during Howse’s tenure. 

“Something that has been a hallmark of ArtsEmerson, a hallmark of David’s leadership, has been this notion of stewardship through moments of change. I have had the pleasure of knowing David Dower quite well and now getting to work with David Howse, it’s just been really beautiful to be part of this trajectory over time.”

Penoi also emphasized how important it is to uphold Howse’s legacy of inclusion at ArtsEmerson and our greater community.

“I am really looking forward to this wonderful conversation giving us food for thought on how we can continue to hold and advance the mantle of fighting for an inclusive, just, equitable, transformative city because that is so much what we all deserve and strive for,” said Penoi.

Ciyadh Wells, executive director at Castle of Our Skins, an organization that fosters and promotes Black musicians and music in the community, offered a perspective on how ArtsEmerson is able to impact Greater Boston.

“I think Boston is in a really special moment in time with this coalition. I think in due time, something really special will come out of it,” said Wells.

Recognized as one of  Get Konnected! Boston’s Most Influential Men of Color in 2023, Howse is a prominent speaker and commentator on the subjects of arts. Since assuming leadership in 2015, Howse has positioned ArtsEmerson as Boston’s leading presenter of contemporary world theater. He also took the lead in initiating the development and organization of artistic performances at the UnCommon Stage on the Boston Common.

Howse concluded with a statement emphasizing the significance of the arts and the optimism it instills.

“This journey has brought us closer to ourselves and to one another and is in the capable hands of those who understand the arts power to transcend boundaries and unites us in creativity and expression,” said Howse. “I carry with me the belief in the enduring power in the arts. They will continue to shape us, the city will flourish, the arts will forever be a force for good, a beacon of hope, and an instrument of change. Don’t give up now, you got this.”

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