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Victory Gardens Theater Announces Ken-Matt Martin as New Artistic Director

Stage Directions • Industry NewsTheatre Buzz • March 17, 2021

Ken-Matt Martin, the new Artistic Director for Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago

Victory Gardens Theater is pleased to announce Ken-Matt Martin as the next Artistic Director in the company’s 46-year history, following a nationwide search that began last fall in partnership with Arts Consulting Group. Martin will officially begin his tenure at Victory Gardens Theater on April 19, 2021.

Ken-Matt Martin was born in Little Rock, AR and began his life in the performing arts as a child actor after an appearance on Nickelodeon’s landmark series All That. He received theatrical training at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Drake University (Musical Theatre/Journalism), and Brown University/Trinity Rep (MFA in Directing). Following a decade-long stint as a professional actor, he transitioned to directing and producing full-time, adopting the personal mission of using theatre as a catalyst for social change. Inspired by the Black Arts Movement, Martin co-founded Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, IA where he served as Executive Director until 2018. Selected directing credits include productions of Civil Sex by Brian Freeman, Mississippi Goddamn by Jonathan Norton, Tripping Over Roots by Jaymes Jorsling, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Prowess by Ike Holter, Shakuntala, tick..tick..Boom and a film entitled The Last Supper. In 2018, Martin was named Producing Director of Williamstown Theatre Festival, where he produced the world premiere productions of Grand Horizons, Selling Kabul, Before The Meeting, A Human Being of A Sort, Tell Me I’m Not Crazy, and revivals of Ghosts starring Uma Thurman and A Raisin in the Sun directed by Robert O’Hara. In the fall of 2019, he joined Goodman Theatre as Associate Producer, where he co-created and curated the Future Labs new play development program and also created and produced Live @ 5 during the pandemic. Since moving to Chicago, he joined the board of Season of Concern, and also serves as a consultant and anti-racism facilitator for New York City Center, Design Action, and Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Victory Gardens Board President Charles E. Harris II shares, “We are excited to welcome our new artistic leader, and the vision he brings to Victory Gardens. We are confident that Ken-Matt will continue the theater’s traditions of new play development and programming that spark conversation and social change and look forward to deepening our core values of diversity, innovation, excellence, and accessibility under his leadership. While there are numerous challenges to overcome as we return to live production in a post-pandemic world, I am confident that Victory Gardens will thrive under Ken-Matt’s direction and will return better than ever.”

“I am humbled and honored to have been named the Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theater,” says Martin. “I cannot wait to bring more ambitious and innovative new plays to the Biograph that will feature our brilliant Chicago artists and playwrights and find continued opportunities for theater makers from across the country to develop their work here with us. I look forward to meeting and collaborating with the staff, artists, board, and audiences who already love this great theater while also attracting new patrons, artists, and collaborators. I am committed to ensuring Victory Gardens always lives up to its values as we enter this new chapter in its history. At a time where there has been so much loss and pain for our industry and the world, I am excited to chart a course for the future that positions Victory Gardens as an institution inspiring meaningful civic change within our city and nation.”

Martin was appointed to the position of Artistic Director after a six-month search, led by Wyona Lynch-McWhite at Arts Consulting Group (ACG). “ACG were fantastic partners in this search,” states AD Search Committee co-chair E. Patrick Johnson. “They provided essential groundwork and information for the search committee, ensuring that the search process was as equitable, fair and transparent as possible.”

“On behalf of the entire board, thank you to the search committee for its engagement and work,” says Sidney Lee, AD Search Committee co-chair. “With input from not only the board and staff, but artists and members of the wider VG community, we have found an artistic director who reflects the values of Victory Gardens and will drive us forward in fulfilling our mission.”

Candidates for the Artistic Director position interviewed with ACG and the search committee. Finalists met with the full staff and board, as well as invited members of the community for conversation and learning.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ken-Matt to the staff, and cannot wait to begin work with him,” shares Acting Managing Director Roxanna Conner. “As we prepare for a return to in-person work, we look forward to the immediate impact Ken-Matt will have on our artistic and community programming, alongside his experience in driving equity at all levels of the organization.”

Further information from Victory Gardens:

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