Black & Magazine Newswire
The Old Globe’s Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein today announced the appointment of Freedome Bradley-Ballentine as Associate Artistic Director. In addition to his expanded role in the Globe’s Artistic Department, Bradley-Ballentine will continue overseeing the Globe’s nationally recognized arts engagement programs. Bradley-Ballentine’s official title will be Associate Artistic Director and Director of Arts Engagement. Bradley-Ballentine’s previous career as a producer will hold the Globe in good stead as he takes a more central role in programming. He will have a more active voice in the development of new artistic relationships as he introduces exciting artists to the Globe’s family, and his aesthetic will have increased influence in season planning and other programming choices. Bradley-Ballentine will continue his work on the senior leadership team of the Globe.
The Globe has two people in the key position of Associate Artistic Director, as Bradley-Ballentine joins Associate Artistic Director Justin Waldman. Waldman has served the Globe brilliantly for nine years as a thinker, leader, and champion of talent. Waldman and Bradley-Ballentine will make a formidable team, complementing and enhancing each other’s skillsets.
“At a moment when good news in the American theatre is in short supply, it’s a special pleasure to acknowledge the extraordinary gifts and contributions of Freedome Bradley-Ballentine to the Globe and beyond,” said Barry Edelstein. “Freedome is a special man: a gifted leader, a profound thinker, and a warm and generous presence. In the five years he’s been here, he’s made the Globe better in countless ways, to the benefit of San Diego. He has broadened our reach and made theatre matter to our neighbors around our county, forging important relationships with institutions and individuals here even as he has built a nationally recognized practice that is the envy of the field. I’m honored to count him and his beautiful family as dear friends, and I feel fortunate to know that his heart and conscience will help lead the Globe through a challenging time with optimism, integrity, kindness, and good humor. Freedome’s talent and creativity inspire his colleagues Katherine Harroff, Justin Waldman, and Jesse Perez, and I congratulate all of them as I look forward to the extraordinary impacts they will make on the Globe for years to come.”
Freedome Bradley-Ballentine noted, “James Baldwin once said, ‘Fires can’t be made with dead embers… enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.’ Over the past five years, it has been easy to be enthusiastic about working at The Old Globe helming the Arts Engagement team. We’ve developed important partnerships and together created programs that have had a positive impact on a variety of communities. I am as excited now as I was when I walked through the doors the first time. It’s a special place filled with passionate people committed to making theatre matter to more people. I’m thrilled to join the leadership team as the Associate Artistic Director (in addition to my prior role). We have an opportunity to create work that values both excellence and relevance, as well as take major strides to make San Diego arts more equitable. I look forward to developing new artistic relationships, not just in San Diego but throughout the United States. I’m honored to join a team dedicated to increasing the value of the work both nationally and locally. Barry is a transformational leader who has broadened the Globe during his tenure. Justin’s impact in developing work at the Globe is undeniable. Our recent conversations have been full of vivid dreaming of what’s next. I can’t wait to share with the world what we’ve been cooking up! The Globe has an amazing reach and I’m excited to see how fast this car can go!”
Bradley-Ballentine succeeds Travis LeMont Ballenger, who has accepted a position as Producer at Lia Vollack Productions in New York. Ballenger takes a thrilling career step that makes him one of a still too small cohort of significant Black producers on Broadway. This opportunity will allow him to continue the important work he’s done throughout his career championing Black artists and stories. Ballenger will join the producing team on the new Broadway show MJ the Musical (the Michael Jackson bio-musical), and he will be part of the Broadway incarnation of the Globe-born musical Almost Famous.
When The Old Globe created its Department of Arts Engagement five years ago and appointed Bradley-Ballentine as Director of Arts Engagement, the goal was to make theatre matter to more people by serving a far wider swath of San Diego. By engaging communities in the theatre’s work through participatory theatre making in their own neighborhoods, the Globe vastly increased its impact. Bradley-Ballentine’s arrival at the Globe brought transformation with him. A visionary leader and a charismatic individual, he established himself as a local figure and quickly developed a national reputation. He built an acclaimed platform with dozens of new programs, and he reimagined legacy programs that have reached tens of thousands of San Diegans, building positive social connections with economically, geographically, and culturally diverse communities. The Globe partners with numerous community-based organizations, ranging from correctional facilities to homeless shelters to senior centers to veterans organizations to libraries and more. Bradley-Ballentine’s particular approach—based in careful and active listening that lets the community tell the Globe what it needs, and puts the Globe in a position of humble public service—is increasingly influential nationally as other theatre companies seek to emulate the Globe’s best practices. Bradley-Ballentine also has overseen the expansion of the Globe for All Tour, which brings free, live, professional productions of Shakespeare to underserved and diverse multigenerational audiences in neighborhoods throughout the region. A second annual production was added, which takes a Globe mainstage production and tours it in the San Diego community after its run at the theatre.
This administrative restructuring furthers this work by formally bringing arts engagement to the center of the Globe’s artistic life. Bradley-Ballentine has built the Globe’s Arts Engagement Department as a thriving team of strong and talented individuals, in particular Katherine Harroff. To support Bradley-Ballentine in his new role, Harroff has been promoted to the position of Associate Director of Arts Engagement. Harroff helped develop the Globe’s Community Voices playwriting program in 2012 and has instructed hundreds of adults in the San Diego community and beyond in finding their voices in theatre. Harroff most recently held the position of Arts Engagement Programs Manager, and she has been instrumental in the creation of innovative traditional and online programming that has reached thousands of San Diegans in their neighborhoods and in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bradley-Ballentine continued, “Kate Harroff is a dynamic force to be reckoned with! Over the past few years she has been instrumental in developing many of the cornerstone programs that communities throughout San Diego have come to treasure. She has made a positive impact on dozens of artists who have either discovered or reconnected with their artistry. Most recently she spearheaded the development of our online programs, connecting even more people to the Globe. Kate is a smart, thoughtful, and innovative leader. We have worked closely together, and I look forward to seeing her flourish even further in this new role. I’m so happy, I could burst!”
As part of this restructure, Jesse Perez, Director of Professional Training for The Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program, will join the Globe’s senior leadership team. Perez’s impact on the nationally ranked training program has been transformative since his arrival. His leadership skills will enhance the Globe even as his presence on this team recognizes the contribution of our M.F.A. program to the caliber of the Globe’s work, and the impact the Globe makes on the national field through its artist training.
Edelstein continued, “It is essential that the Globe champions the country’s most dynamic and deserving theatre leaders as their gifts help us better serve San Diego. As we strive for our institution to better reflect the world in which we live, we celebrate the unique contributions of the leaders involved in these changes here. And as we commit to amplifying voices and communities that have not frequently been seen and heard center stage here, these changes, and in particular this change in Freedome Bradley-Ballentine’s role, make the Globe better, richer, and more inspiring.”