A veteran of the Bay Area’s performing arts community will lead the Broad Stage into its second decade, Santa Monica College announced Monday.

Rob Bailis is leaving Cal Performances at UC Berkeley to serve as artistic and executive director of the Broad Stage starting in June. The performing arts space incorporates a 500-seat theater and a 100-seat black-box theater, which host concerts, plays, dance performances, operas and lectures. He succeeds director Jane Deknatel in leading the independent nonprofit, which is governed by a board of directors from Santa Monica College, the Broad Foundation and the Los Angeles arts community.

Bailis most recently served as associate director of Cal Performances, where he commissioned original projects, initiated a five-year residency program and oversaw the organization’s first Oakland series of performances. He was the director of ODC Theater in San Francisco from 2003 to 2011 and led its $9-million expansion, elevating its visibility from regional to national and international. Bailis is also a renowned clarinetist.

“(Bailis) is a gifted professional musician and is a highly regarded creative leader of artistic programming,” said SMC superintendent and president Kathryn Jeffery. “His substantial arts management experience in a higher education environment combined with a richly textured professional background aligns beautifully with what we were seeking in someone to skillfully guide the Broad Stage to the next level in its evolution.”

Bailis said he is inspired by the diversity of SMC and the potential for a deeper connection with its students.

“I love the incredible diversity of the community that intersects with the college,” he said. “There are people from all walks of life choosing to engage with education and invest in themselves, and that brings a certain kind of energy and entrepreneurship that will become the foundation of where things can move in the future.”

Bailis said he is excited to lead an organization that has marked out its first decade as a regional arts leader but is still developing its identity. His previous experience has been with legacy institutions, which have less artistic flexibility, he said.

“The Broad is so young, so it has the freedom to be particularly bold, progressive and inclusive in a way legacy institutions are struggling to articulate,” he said.

He is already developing some ideas to Broad more accessible and creative, including artists residencies and performances in downtown Santa Monica, he said. Bailis said he learned how to facilitate artist-driven programming and bring younger audiences while at Cal Performances and ODC and plans to continue that approach in his new role.

“What SMC has in its arsenal is a staggering array of places one can be creative,” he said. “There’s something really beautiful about the public-private partnership that supports the Broad in that it creates a direct tie to multiple constituencies, and in next chapter of the organization, that’s the piece that can really explode and become a transformational experience for the community.”


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  1. congratulations to all concerned…to Rob for finding a wonderful platform for his inventive and far reaching imagination and to the Broad for snagging a talent of Rob’s range and intellectual magnitude!

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