YBCA names rising star in Bay Area arts scene to key curating post

Marc Bamuthi Joseph left some big shoes to fill at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

When the choreographer, dancer and spoken word artist decamped for Washington, D.C., last winter to take a newly created position at the Kennedy Center, the YBCA was faced with replacing the charismatic leader after his seven-year run as chief of program and pedagogy.

It turns out the ideal feet were already in the building. Officials at YBCA have announced that Ethiopian-American vocalist, composer and international cultural activist Meklit Hadero is assuming a newly created role, Chief of Program. The position reflects YBCA’s evolution as a multidisciplinary presenter and incubator, with Hadero steering the organization’s programming in visual arts, performing arts, film, and civic and community engagement.

“It’s the next level of Marc’s job,” says YBCA CEO Deborah Cullinan. “As a curator he focused mostly on performing arts. The main difference is that Meklit will oversee all of our programming areas. We’ve put all of the departments under one team now. This is really about having a vision for an organization, not a particular department.”

With three theaters, gallery space, and outdoor grounds in one of San Francisco’s most densely packed cultural hubs, the YBCA bristles with creative promise, and Hadero comes to the new position with deep knowledge of the organization’s workings. She first got acquainted with the YBCA co-curating performances in the 2008 iteration of the interactive arts series “Room for Big Ideas.” She returned to put on her own performances in 2016 with a three-night run debuting the songs from her Ethio-jazz project “This Was Made Here/When the People Move, the Music Moves Too.”

The following year Hadero served as the musical director for “UnderCover Presents: A Tribute to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” a critically hailed program co-presented by YBCA as part of the Clas/Sick Hip-Hop Festival. She’s also served on YBCA’s Board of Directors (2015-19) and recently wrapped up a three-month artist residency with the organization.

“I’ve had so many different types of roles at YBCA,” Hadero says. “I’ve been deeply connected to the organization for a long time. There aren’t too many places I can bring my full self to the table, the two hybridized sides of my career as a performer and activist.”

Born in Ethiopia and raised in an academic family in Iowa, New York and Florida, Meklit found herself as an artist in San Francisco after studying political science at

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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