Hollis Ashby, former associate director of Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, succeeds Ellis Finger, who founded the Performance Series when the Williams Center opened in 1983 and retired June 30.
“Throughout her career, Hollis has demonstrated a keen understanding of the important role that the arts play in our society and in the education of the college student,” said Suzanne Westfall, director of the arts. “Her appointment comes during a period of tremendous growth in the arts at Lafayette with the opening of the new Williams Arts Campus, which will contribute to the cultural offerings in the greater Lehigh Valley, and which underscore the significant place that the arts and humanities hold at Lafayette College.”
As series director, Ashby will be responsible for the overall artistic vision and executive leadership of the visiting performing arts program, encompassing the fields of chamber music, early music, new music, vocal and instrumental recitals, classical and modern dance, jazz, world stage, and theater. In addition, the music department holds dozens of student and faculty concerts and the theater program holds five productions each year. Ashby will also be charged with initiating and commissioning new artistic and educational ventures, including those in association with Lehigh Valley arts and culture organizations.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate to be joining the Lafayette community at this time, when the arts are expanding and deepening with profound relevance,” said Ashby. “The Williams Center Performance Series is an eminent program in the world of the performing arts—and in the field of liberal arts education—and it is one of the things that makes Lafayette College a special place.”
Ashby has worked professionally in the performing arts for 27 years, most recently serving as associate director of Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, one of the largest performing arts presenters in California, and one of the most influential arts institutions in the world. There, she created new education and festival ventures which have become models for programming nationwide. Ashby co-chaired that organization’s first (2001) and second (2007) long-range planning processes, which resulted in a successful $15 million capital campaign, and the receipt of a Wallace Foundation LEAP grant to develop and disseminate innovative cultural participation practices. She has held managerial positions in public relations at American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco) and the San Francisco Symphony; and has served as a professional and volunteer consultant for a wide-range of cultural institutions, including California Jazz Conservatory, Pacific Mozart Ensemble, San Francisco Open Studios, and Craneway Pavilion, among others.
Ashby holds a BA in English Literature from St. Lawrence University and an MA in Dramatic Art from UC Davis, with an emphasis in theater history, literature and practice; and for many years studied piano and modern dance.
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