Conn alumnus to run Yale’s new arts and culture center
Garth Ross ’93 has been appointed the inaugural executive director of the Schwarzman Center, Yale University’s new cultural hub, set to open in 2020.
Ross, a renowned producer and director who currently serves as the vice president of community engagement at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., will join Yale in April to run the center, which will host everything from poetry readings to rock concerts. With multiple gathering spaces, including a bistro and pub, performing arts spaces and rehearsal studios throughout the building, as well as meeting spaces for student groups, the center is expected to be a communal campus hub.
“Typically we think of culture as going to the theater a few times a year,” Ross told The New York Times. “This is a completely different paradigm—imagining food and conversation as culture, as well as music, dance and theater.”
Ross, who majored in English literature and music and is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, has more than 20 years of experience developing programming and executing strategies for increasing participation in the arts. At the Kennedy Center, he produced more than 7,000 performances featuring artists from all 50 states and around the world—from Grammy Award-winning performers, to slam poets, to world-renowned dance troupes.
With a focus on creating unique programming and collaborations between organizations, artists, communities and disciplines, Ross and his team at the Kennedy Center have worked to bring world-class performing arts programming and festivals to a wide range of audiences. The “What’s going on … NOW” festival brought together Grammy-winner John Legend and the National Symphony Orchestra to perform and lead programming to help foster the critical connection between music, cultural history, social action and self-expression among young people and their communities.
Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said, “Garth is a futurist at heart. His groundbreaking work at the Kennedy Center across two decades is evidence that he has always been ahead of his time.
“Garth’s trademark is curating artistic and community engagement experiences that are both immersive and responsive—never passive, and always multidimensional. Unafraid to take risks, he persistently encouraged the institution and his colleagues to think big. As a result, he has fundamentally changed the way the center thinks about and creates programs for our audiences. His impact is truly immeasurable and now a proud and lasting part of who we are as an organization.”
Ross will build upon this track record of groundbreaking programming in his new role at the Schwarzman Center.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work within a community with such a deep commitment to cultural equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Ross. “The work I lead at the Kennedy Center focuses on increasing stakeholder influence over what we present and how we present it, so that the center truly reflects our communities. I firmly believe that through collaboration, the Schwarzman Center experience can reflect the cultural richness of the Yale community. And that will be truly extraordinary.”