651 ARTS appoints Toya Lillard as Executive Director

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–651 ARTS – Brooklyn’s premier organization for the performing arts of the African Diaspora – now named Toya Lillard as executive director of the famous institution. Lillard, who originally joined 651 as interim executive director in May this year, was appointed to a more permanent position by the organization’s board of directors for a three-year term in that role.

Lillard, a seasoned arts and culture leader, will lead the organization through a comprehensive three-year strategic plan for capacity building and major expansion, including the planned move of 651 ARTS into high-growth cultural spaces. vogue at 10 Lafayette in Brooklyn scheduled for spring 2023 The organization’s new headquarters will include its own state of the art black box theater, 2 rehearsal studiosand one multimedia studio, enabling 651 ARTS to provide essential and flexible new modes of support for artists – and to further foster artists and cultivate new audiences. Additionally, Lillard will oversee all other aspects of the institution’s day-to-day operations, including artistic vision, administrative and fiscal oversight, board development, fund development and partnerships, with the goal of working advancing a redesigned 651 ARTS as it ushers in a new chapter in the evolution of the organization.

“We are thrilled and very pleased with what Toya has accomplished in just three months, bringing his strong leadership skills and artistic vision to 651 ARTS,” said Chairman of the Board, Yvonne JoynerLevette. “We are delighted to invite him to continue leading the organization in a more permanent capacity as we prepare to open and operate our first location in our 34-year history.”

With 25 years of experience in arts management and leadership, Lillard brings to 651 a solid background as a theater artist, director, arts administrator, educator and facilitator, as well as an impressive track record in the management of cultural institutions through expansion and periods of growth.

“I am humbled and honored to lead 651 ARTS, a deeply rooted organization in Brooklyn known for nurturing the arts ecosystems that have long existed in black communities in Brooklyn and beyond,” Lillard said. “I am deeply indebted to the Board of Directors for trusting me and to former 651 ARTS CEO and visionary Shay Wafer, as I am the product of his mentorship, and I am grateful to him for ‘have nurtured my leadership.

651 also announced promotions of key members of its leadership team with the advancements of Robert W. Henderson, Jr. to the director of production and operations and Farren Wood the Manager of Programs and Community Engagement. Henderson, who has worked as Production Manager at 651 ARTS since 2005, will now be an active member of the 651 ARTS management team and responsible for all aspects of the operation of the 651 ARTS presentation space, as well as its productions, on-site and off-site. Joining the team in 2021 as a Program Associate, Wood will now provide – in conjunction with General Manager Toya Lillard – creative vision and leadership for 651 ARTS’ arts programming and community engagement activities, including presentations, partnerships, educational programs and artist residencies/commissions.

Since its founding in 1988, 651 ARTS has become a trusted convener of contemporary African diaspora artistic expression with a mission to preserve the legacy of black culture in Brooklyn, celebrate the eclecticism of black performance, and create new visions of artists from the African Diaspora.

About Toya Lillard

Toya Lillard is a theater artist, director, arts educator and animator. Toya is currently Executive Director of 651 ARTS, a nationally recognized arts presenter. Prior to joining 651, Toya was Executive Director of viBe Theater Experience, an arts education organization and theater company in Brooklyn, New York. Prior to her role at viBe, Toya was Director of School Programs for The New York Philharmonic Orchestra Department of Education, where she helped develop its nationally recognized School Partnership Program. Toya is a part-time teacher at The new schoolwhere she teaches Collaborative theater practice. Toya sits on the board of directors of New York Arts in Education Roundtable, and co-chairs the Equity and Inclusion Working Group, and sits on the viBe Theater Experience Board of Directors. Toya holds a BA from Vassar College and an MA from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

About 651 ARTS

Founded in Brooklyn, NY in 1988, the mission of 651 ARTS is to deepen knowledge and appreciation of the contemporary performing arts and culture of the African Diaspora, and to provide professional and creative opportunities for artists from around the world. African ancestry.

651 ARTS programs are made possible through donations from generous individuals and grants from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals supported by the Mellon Foundation, Bay and Paul Foundations, The Baisley Powell Elebash Fund, The Black Seed, Con Edison, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, Howard Gilman Foundation, Lambent Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, New York Community Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Emma Sheafer Charitable Trust, Wallace Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, including Majority Leader Keith Powers, the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office Antonio Reynosoand the New York State Council on the Arts with support from Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

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