Friday, September 16, 2011

Hello, Norma!

Norma Kaplan, who has served as head of Cultural Affairs for Arlington County, Virginia was appointed to a newly-created joint position as Managing Director of George Street Playhouse and Executive Director of the New Brunswick Cultural Center in August of this year. 

 “I am very excited to welcome Norma Kaplan to George Street Playhouse,” said the theatre’s Chairman of the Board, Steven M. Darien.  “Norma has an exemplary track record of the kind of ground-breaking thinking that can help us cost-effectively build programs and do more to enrich the lives of our community through first-class theatre.” 

George Street Artistic Director David Saint said, “Norma is a visionary thinker.  The chance to work with someone with her ideas in bringing arts to the community will bring and exciting new energy to our theatre. ”

That passion for the arts – and its importance to communities – has its roots in her upbringing in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York.  She auditioned for a children’s theater ensemble begun by legendary impresario Sol Hurok.  “I was taking acting and singing lessons and performing sometimes in concert halls,” Ms. Kaplan said.  “So that sort of started my pathway into the arts.  And I guess it just never went away.”

An alumna of City and Adelphi Universities,  she was named Cultural Affairs Division Chief of Arlington County in 1986.  One of her first major projects was the development of Arlington’s Arts Incubator Program, which focused on maximizing resources – offering, for example, emerging theater companies free access to unused buildings as rehearsal and performance space.  Named three times by the Washingtonian as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, her crowning achievement in Virginia was the development of the Artisphere, an arts center that encompasses three theaters, three galleries, classroom space, a ballroom, atrium and outdoor terrace.  More importantly, through her visionary leadership, she has provided much-needed support to dozens of arts organizations who might not have survived without the assistance provided by the programs she founded .  

 “By doing what I do,” she says, “I empower a lot of artists to do better what they do.”

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