Today brings two pieces of news to confirm that at least some of the dust that has been kicked up over the last few months is beginning to settle. Both Links Hall and Luna Negra Dance Theater have announced their next Director and Executive Director, respectively.
Replacing CJ Mitchell at Links will be Roell Schmidt, a fifteen-year veteran of Chicago-area arts administration with prior roles at Lookingglass Theatre Company, Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Athenaeum Theatre as well as a concurrent career writing and producing in theater and independent film. Recipient of three CAAP grants and a residency at Lake Forest’s Ragdale artists’ community, Schmidt says her “…experience as an audience member at Links Hall has been one inspiring discovery after another. It is a terrific honor to be asked to champion the risk-taking and originality that Links Hall has been nurturing for the past 30 years. I can’t wait to begin!”
While the search for Luna Negra’s next AD goes on, July 13 will be the first day of work for Joanna Naftali as the company’s Executive Director. A Chicago native, Naftali comes from a varied and prestigious background in administration, including engagements with the Ravinia Festival, the Kennedy Center and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project through its local collaborations with the Department of Cultural Affairs, the CSO and Art Institute. Most recently she was Director of Marketing and Communications at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. An artist herself, Naftali studied cello at Indiana University before continuing at Switzerland’s Musik-Akademie Der Stadt Basel and completing a Master of Music degree from Yale.
Despite that whole economic downturn thing, both organizations are at an exciting and vital point in their development — here’s wishing Schmidt and Naftali all the best in their new offices.