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Yerba Buena Center for the Arts appoints Marc Bamuthi Joseph as Director of Performing Arts

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts announce that, after an extensive nationwide search, leading Bay Area performing artist, activist and educator, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, has been selected as YBCA’s director of performing arts. Since 1999, Joseph has been the founding program director and artistic director of Youth Speaks, Inc. in San Francisco, the leading nonprofit presenter of spoken-word education and youth development programs in the country. Joseph also developed the Living Word Project, Youth Speaks’ renowned resident theater program that centers on cutting-edge, verse-based work, and, in 2001, started the organization’s Living World Festival, which takes place annually in the Bay Area and features new co-commissioned performance works, live music and outreach activities. In addition, he is the co-founder of Life is Living, a national series of one-day festivals designed to activate under-resourced parks and affirm peaceful urban life through hip- hop arts and focused environmental action. Participating cities have included Oakland, Calif., Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco.

A nationally acclaimed educator and essayist, Joseph has lectured at more than 200 colleges and universities and has held adjunct professorships at Stanford University, Lehigh University, Mills College and the University of Wisconsin. He has served as the artistic director of Russell Simmons Presents Brave New Voices, a seven-part documentary for HBO and is a popular speaker on National Public Radio. His numerous accolades include being named one of Smithsonian magazine’s America’s Top Young Innovators in the Arts, being the inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, which annually recognizes 50 of the country’s “greatest living artists”, and receiving the 2011 Alpert Award in Theater.

“Marc has a particularly unique perspective on performing arts that will be very invigorating for us,” said Kenneth Foster, YBCA’s executive director. “YBCA has a huge commitment to diverse points of view, and Marc’s outlook will create a vital and vibrant mix of thoughts, opinions and ideas about the artistic trajectory of the organization.”

“Another one of Marc’s strengths is his deep relationship with the community,” continued Foster. “He’s absolutely committed to the Bay Area and has developed his national and international reputation as a Bay Area artist. He is an extraordinary individual and we’re thrilled to have him join us.”

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), located in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena cultural district, is one of the nation’s leading multidisciplinary contemporary arts centers. With a belief that contemporary art is at the heart of community life, YBCA brings audiences and artists of all backgrounds together to express and experience creativity. The organization is known for nurturing emerging artists at the forefront of their fields and presenting works that blend art forms and explore the events and ideas of our time. As part of its commitment to the San Francisco Bay Area, YBCA supports the local arts community and reflects the region’s diversity of people and thought through its arts and public programming.

YBCA programs around four Big Ideas to organize its wide-ranging programs and provide a context with which to engage the art. The Big Ideas are: ENCOUNTER: Engaging the social context; SOAR: The search for meaning; REFLECT: Considering the personal; and DARE: Innovations in art, action, audience. These ideas, which encompass art from all disciplines, are designed to focus an investigation of contemporary art and its relationship to the larger world. Using the Big Ideas as portals, YBCA has established a framework of thought that invites exploration and risk-taking, quiet reflection and active engagement.

Performing arts, visual arts and film/video programs are curated thematically around Big Ideas which illustrate the connections and associations between the works. Public programs and Big Idea Nights, YBCA’s popular free open house series, are dedicated to establishing a deeper understanding and appreciation of contemporary art. YBCA presents programming year-round in the Forum, Screening Room, Galleries and Novellus Theater. For tickets and information, call 415.978.ARTS (2787) or visit

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