Performance Space New York today announced influential best-selling author, professor, editor and public intellectual Roxane Gay as Chair of the Board. Earlier this year, the organization made progress in placing its artist-centric model at the very heart of its institutional structure, bringing in artists such as Gay, Nicole Eisenman, as well as Cohort 02020 members Jonathan González and Jackson Polys on the board and moving closer to a stated goal. to constitute a council composed of at least 50% of artists. Gay’s new position as head of the board represents another step in ensuring Performance Space New York’s ability to prioritize the risk-taking and community needs of artists.
Gay, a performance lover with years of experience in theater technology, with a strong heritage of supporting underrepresented and groundbreaking voices (through her book club and sub-stack), is first joined the board after being connected to the organization by his wife, board member Debbie Millman. Together they attended Performance Space’s 2019 Spring Gala, where Gay was inspired to bring together “so many interesting people who all love experimental theater and experimental art in one place, for the common purpose of s to ensure that this type of work continues to be nurtured.”
Gay says, “My vision as Chairman of the Board is to continue to support great experimental art and ensure a diversity of aesthetics are brought to Performance Space. But I’m also interested in diversifying the board and making sure that we continue to make sure that it’s not just people with money who can sit on the board and make decisions, because that’s not is not a reflection of our current community. I want us to make sure we are connected to the East Village community where our space is; to support as many artists as possible; say yes to as many as possible in interesting and innovative ways; and staying as nimble as possible and staying open to ideas that may be uncomfortable but ultimately will best serve Performance Space and best further the art. “
Performance Space New York’s Executive Artistic Director Jenny Schlenzka describes Gay’s first and a half years on the board in a way that would certainly resonate with fans of his work and his voice as a cultural commentator: as “opinionated and practical…someone who would rather make things change than talk endlessly about making change.” She recalls the board retreat that Gay led – where the board ended up voting for her for the role of president – as being “like a breath of fresh air, in the way she leads the group, how well she talks, how people are drawn to she.”
Schlenzka adds: “It was always a dream to have an artist leading the board – and besides having someone with her politics and her ethical compass is really exciting. Her opinions are realistic and they are solid: she wants a more equitable and accessible and sees how we can be part of creating that culture.She understands and engages budget conversations as fundamental to an organization’s visionary goals.Most importantly, as an artist herself- likewise, she believes in giving artists the space and support they need to take risks.”
Gay assumes the role of board chair, Suzanne Geiss steps down and becomes vice president to help with the transition, eventually continuing her tenure on the board as chair of the development committee. Geiss has had a big influence on changes at Performance Space over her many years on the board: She was first hired to serve on the search committee for a new executive artistic director, which resulted in the appointment of Jenny Schlenzka and the design of a transformative era for the historical. institution. As Chairman of the Board, Geiss, who has a deep connection to the work and estate of Keith Haring, initiated and energized a momentous partnership between Performance Space and the Keith Haring Foundation, which included a $1,000 prize $000 from the foundation.
About Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay is, among other things, a writer, teacher, editor and social commentator. His writings appear in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review and many more. She is an opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, New York Times bestseller Bad Feminist, national bestseller Difficult Women, and New York Times bestseller Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books coming out and is also working on television and film projects.