The last two years have seen widespread turnover in the leadership at some of Portland's largest arts institutions. As of Tuesday, one of the most notable vacancies from that changing of the guard has been filled: just over a year after Dámaso Rodríguez announced his departure from the position, Artists Repertory Theatre—the city's longest-running professional theater company—has named its new artistic director.
Jeanette Harrison, cofounder of Bay Area company AlterTheater, will step into the role on October 1, a week before ART's current show, The Hombres, closes, and its next one, The Ripple, the Wave That Carried Me Home, opens. She will be just the third artistic director in the company's 41-year history.
"The arts are one of the most powerful tools for change," Harrison said in a Tuesday morning press release. "How great it is to know that ... if we put stories onstage that celebrate the complicated, messy lives of three-dimensional people, that we are helping to move that needle on justice, on equity. I love that Artists Rep is already committed to this kind of work."
Harrison was confirmed by ART's board on recommendation from Arts Consulting Group, a multi-arm firm whose services range from program planning to executive search. (Rodríguez, coincidentally, began work at Arts Consulting Group after he left ART; he does not work on their executive search team.) Her work in the Bay Area, per the press release, has netted her 11 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, and led her to work with several of ART's core collaborators, including playwright Diana Burbano.
When ART named Rodríguez its artistic director in 2013, he became the first Latino AD at a company that belonged to the League of Resident Theatres. Harrison will be the company's first woman artistic director, and its first of Native American descent.