Kenneth Foster, Executive Director at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, to take new position at USC

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Kenneth Foster, Executive Director at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, to take new position at USC
Foster will depart from YBCA in May 2013 to be the director of a new graduate program in arts leadership.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The board of directors of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts announced today that Kenneth Foster, executive director since October 2003, will be leaving the organization at the end of this fiscal year, to take the position of associate professor and director of a new graduate program in arts leadership at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. The board will begin the search for his successor immediately. Foster will remain in his position at YBCA until May 2013, and begin full-time at USC in the fall of 2013.

“Leaving YBCA is, of course, a bittersweet moment for me,” said Foster. “I have loved every minute of my time here and look back with great pride at where I have been privileged to lead this extraordinary organization. YBCA now is a much stronger institution with a vital and respected artistic program, a solid financial base, a dedicated staff, a committed board of directors actively engaged in the institution and an international reputation as an important center for contemporary art and artists. Most of all, I am proud to have lead the transformation of YBCA into an institution whose highest core value is innovation - a value that I, the staff and the board live every day.”

Under Foster’s leadership, YBCA has evolved into a nationally and internationally renowned arts center, as well as a major presenter in the San Francisco Bay Area of contemporary visual and performing arts, and cutting-edge film and video programs.

Specific accomplishments by Foster from 2003 to 2012 include:

• national recognition of YBCA for audience development, innovation and excellence in programming, including two Doris Duke Charitable Foundation awards, two Wallace Foundation awards, the organization's first Irvine Foundation and Met Life Foundation awards, as well as annual awards from the Hewlett Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA)

• introducing and launching the innovative YBCA:YOU all-access program, that transforms the relationship between the arts center and its audience from a transaction to an immersive, social, life-long learning experience

• creating "The Big Ideas" as an innovative way to illuminate the connections between the work of the rich array of artists that comprise the YBCA programs: ENCOUNTER: Engaging the social context; SOAR: The search for meaning; REFLECT: Considering the personal; and DARE: Innovations in art, action, audience

• doubling the size of the organizational budget and creating a substantial cash reserve, without artistic compromise, through effective expense management and innovative revenue generation activities during the worst economic conditions of our time

• assembling a nationally recognized curatorial team that has dramatically increased the amount of YBCA-generated programs offered to over 300 annually; building and diversifying the audience through Big Idea Nights, the Room for Big Ideas, Smart Night Out, Dance Savvy, Art Savvy and a huge array of diverse programs, lectures, symposia and other audience engagement activities

• bringing recognition to YBCA through his field wide leadership including serving as a co-founder of the Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium and authoring two key industry publications: his first book, Presenting the Performing Arts; From Theory to Practice and Thriving in an Uncertain World; Arts Presenting and the New Realities, a white paper commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation and the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) , in response to the changed economic environment

• YBCA ranking by Philanthropedia as one the San Francisco Bay Area’s top nonprofit arts organizations and a four-star Charity Navigator rating for four consecutive years

“Ken’s enormous contribution to YBCA’s growth over the past ten years and his outstanding leadership has put us on the map as innovators in multidisciplinary arts presentation,” said Diana Cohn, president of YBCA’s board of directors. “Due to Ken’s vision, we’ve been able to take a revolutionary approach to how we present contemporary artists. Plus, his sound fiscal management during the economic downturn resulted in us having strong cash reserves while increasing staff and programming. We will miss Ken very much but are also very happy for him as he begins this new, exciting chapter in his life.”

“The advances he made at YBCA brought Ken to our attention,” said Rob Cutietta, Dean, Thornton School of Music at USC. “The innovative programs launched under his leadership together with his forward-looking vision make him a perfect person to head our new arts leadership program."

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