Cultural Comings and Goings: Harlem Stage’s New Director and More

Kayla Carlsen and Laetitia Catoir are among the other art world and cultural insiders stepping into new roles.

Woman in black blazer stands in greenery with arms crossed
Indira Etwaroo. Photo: Hollis King/Courtesy Harlem Stage

From the Albany Institute of History & Art’s decision to name Kayla Carlsen as its new executive director to an interim leadership appointment at the nonprofit Americans for the Arts helmed by Suzy Delvalle and Jamie Bennett, here are some of the most notable changes recently announced across the arts and culture spheres.

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Harlem Stage announces Indira Etwaroo as artistic director and CEO

As it celebrates four decades of performing arts honoring Harlem’s artistic legacy, Harlem Stage has selected a new leader: Indira Etwaroo. She will succeed the organization’s longtime artistic director and CEO Patricia Cruz, who is stepping down this July after a quarter-century of leadership.

Etwaroo was recently the inaugural director of the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple in Cupertino, California, where she focused on partnerships, event strategy and multi-platform content. She also served as the artistic director for the off-Broadway Billie Holiday Theatre, acted as the founding executive producer of NPR Presents and The Greene Space and helped fundraise more than $10 million for Black theaters across the U.S. during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As she takes the helm at Harlem Stage, Etwaroo will prioritize challenging inequities in the art world and highlighting art driven by technologies and innovations from artists of color. While speaking at Harlem Stage’s 40th-anniversary gala earlier this month, Etwaroo noted that she is “profoundly humbled” to lead the performing arts center and “demand that cultural institutions be thought of as first responders and artists as frontline workers in this quest to create a more just, more truthful, more inclusive and more equitable world for the next generation and for generations to come.”

Cleveland Museum of Art taps Jacquelyn Sawyer as chief learning officer

Woman wearing glasses poses in front of greenery
Jacquelyn Sawyer. Courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art

Jacquelyn Sawyer, the former vice president of education and engagement at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., has been appointed chief learning officer at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). Sawyer was chosen after an extensive national search and will begin her position on June 17.

“Her experience as an educator and in interpretation opens a wealth of opportunity for the CMA to welcome students, engage with our audiences and connect with communities outside our walls,” said William Griswold, director and president of CMA, in a statement. In addition to her leadership at the National Building Museum, Sawyer held director roles at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland.

At the CMA, Sawyer will oversee the institution’s mission to utilize its collection to engage diverse audiences. She will lead public engagement by shepherding academic programs, art-related programming and its 10,000-piece Education Art Collection, which spans 5,000 years of history.  “I am looking forward to creating opportunities and building pathways of accessibility for all audiences, in Cleveland and around the globe, to find meaning and purpose in art,” said Sawyer in a statement.

Kayla Carlsen to head the Albany Institute of History & Art

Woman in blazer stands with her arms crossed in front of painting canvases.
Kayla Carlsen. Copyright M.M. LaFleur/Courtesy Albany Institute of History & Art

The oldest museum in New York State has a new leader. Following the departure of Kristen Oehlrich last year, the 233-year-old Albany Institute of History & Art has selected Kayla Carlsen as its executive director.

Carlsen, currently senior vice president and head of American art at Sotheby's, will take the helm on June 15. “As a native of the Hudson Valley, and an expert in American art, Ms. Carlsen is uniquely suited to understanding the Albany Institute’s history and significance in the region, and leveraging its potential for future growth and impact,” said George Hearst II, chair of the museum’s board, in a statement.

In addition to a nearly seven-year tenure at Sotheby’s where she helped globalize the auction market for American art, Carlsen held roles specializing in American art at auctioneers Bonhams and Christie's. She has also worked at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and historic houses such as the Historic Deerfield in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, New York.

Suzy Delvalle and Jamie Bennett to serve as interim co-CEOs at Americans for the Arts

Two images side-by-side showing a woman with glasses and a man in a suit.
Suzy Delvalle and Jamie Bennett. Lanscine Janneh/©BFA 2024 and Noel McGrath/©BFA 2024

Americans for the Arts, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on advancing the arts across the U.S., will be led by interim co-CEOs Suzy Delvalle and Jamie Bennett as the organization searches for a permanent new leader to replace its former CEO Nolan Bivens, who stepped down in May.

Delvalle has held interim leadership roles at arts organizations like Artadia and United States Artists in the past and in 2013 was the founding director of New York’s Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, in addition to heading Creative Capital and playing a key role in the shaping of Artists Relief, an emergency initiative that raised $25 million to aid artists during the Covid-19 pandemic. Bennett, meanwhile, is currently a thought leader at the Toronto-based Lord Cultural Resources, where he provides strategic advice to clients like the MacArthur Foundation and the American Museum of Natural History. He formerly was the director of Artplace America and has worked at the National Endowment for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the Agnes Gund Foundation.

Both Delvalle and Bennett started in their new roles earlier this month and will report to the board of directors of Americans for the Arts. Led by the nonprofit’s CEO Selection Committee and the Chicago-based Koya Leadership Partners, Americans for the Arts has already begun conducting a national search for a new CEO who will prioritize advocacy, research and convenings.

Laetitia Catoir joins Thaddaeus Ropac as a senior director

Woman in black turtleneck poses against blue sky background
Laetitia Catoir. Photo: Charles Duprat/Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac

Thaddaeus Ropac, a contemporary art gallery with locations across Paris, London, Salzburg and Seoul, has named Laetitia Catoir as a Paris-based senior director. Catoir will join Thaddaeus Ropac from Lévy Gorvy Dayan, bringing along decades of experience in curation and gallery leadership.

Founded by art dealer Thaddaeus Ropac in 1983, the eponymous gallery represents over 60 artists. In her new role, Catoir will lead primary market sales and prioritize efforts to expand the gallery’s secondary market offerings beyond the artists, estates and foundations on its roster.

Catoir began her career in Christie’s London in the late 1990s, working for nearly a decade as a specialist and eventually a department director. She later joined Phillips de Pury and acted as a director and senior director at Blain|Southern and Hauser & Wirth London respectively. Catoir is additionally a board member of the Dakar-based artist center Raw Material Company and a founding member of the board of 1-54, a contemporary African art fair held annually in London.

“I am thrilled to be joining Thaddaeus and his team in Paris where the gallery has a longstanding history,” said Catoir in a statement, adding that she looks forward to “collaborating with the international team to develop the secondary market and advisory branch of the gallery, as well as working with such an exceptional array of artists.”

Cultural Comings and Goings: Harlem Stage’s New Director and More