African Diasporic arts organization 651 ARTS has appointed its first creative director as part of its revitalization and expansion, the nonprofit announced. 

Raelle Myrick-Hodges, a seasoned arts administrator and founder of Philadelphia’s Azuka Theatre, will be spearheading the organization’s efforts to expand its programming and artist development. Previously, all artistic programs fell under the scope of the executive director. But as the institution continues its growth trajectory, it was imperative to create a purely artistic role on the executive leadership team, said 651 ARTS Board Chair Yvonne Joyner Levette.

“In order to be a fully sustainable arts institution, our leadership roles have to be clearly defined and streamlined,” said Levette. “It made perfect sense to carve out a role that is so specifically focused on programming and to have someone who will be looking at the company solely through the artistic lens. I am so excited to see where Raelle will take the institution artistically. She has an invaluable and fresh perspective that I think will be such an asset to 651 right now as we set course on this new direction.”

With more than 20 years of experience in leading cultural institutions, ranging from regional theater to international visual art institutions and Broadway, Raelle Myrick-Hodges is known as a visionary with a proven track record of in the performing arts.

In prior roles, she was the artistic director of San Francisco’s Brava for Women in the Arts and most recently served as the inaugural curator of Performing Arts for the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans.  

As a nationally-known stage director, Myrick-Hodges has worked in over 15 regional theaters and museums including SF MOMA, Playmakers Repertory, California Shakespeare Theater, The Public Theater, The National Black Theater, Theater Minnot in Beirut and EDELO Residencia in Chiapas, Mexico.

“I am elated to be appointed the creative director of 651 ARTS and to build on the extraordinary legacy of this institution,” said Myrick-Hodges. “Our mission remains to enrich the lives of our artists and audiences inter-generationally through cutting edge and captivating experiences, amplifying the rich complexities of the African Diaspora and illuminating cultural connections that will resonate with people globally.”

Since its inception in 1988, 651 ARTS has provided professional development for artists of African descent while simultaneously presenting international and regional works in dance, music, film and theater.

Last year, as it ushered in its 30th anniversary, 651 ARTS strategically entered a phase of rebuilding. Before moving to its new home at 300 Ashland Place, now known as 10 Lafayette, in the next couple of years, the organization will focus on reimagining its artistic and institutional footprint, preparing 651 for the next 30 years and beyond.

“This year, the transition year, is integral for the institution as it will lay the framework for the next five years and will further help to reinforce 651 ARTS’ role as a leader of African Diasporic culture while also establishing it an incubator for artistic innovation in the 21st century,“ the organization stated. 

Stay tuned for 651 ARTS’s 2019 season. 

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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