News & Commentary, Stage, Theatre

Vallejo Gantner to head Onassis Foundation

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Melbourne producer and former artistic associate of the Melbourne Festival, Vallejo Gantner, has been been appointed artistic and executive director of the Onassis Foundation USA based in New York.

From 2005 to 2017 Gantner was artistic director of the experimental Performance Space 122 (now Performance Space New York). He was previously artistic director of the Dublin Fringe Festival.

At Onassis USA, Gantner will lead all of the foundation’s cultural activities in the U.S “harnessing its evolution into a formidable contemporary producer and presenter of arts-and-ideas programs that substantially contribute to timely national conversations and effectively inspire social change”.

“I am incredibly honoured to accept the position of artistic and executive director of the Onassis Foundation USA,” Gantner said in a press statement.

“Over the last decade, I’ve seen the foundation courageously chart new ground in Greece and in the U.S., with the completion of the Onassis Stegi cultural centre in Athens and the launch of its revolutionary Onassis AiR residency program, the Onassis Festival 2018: The Birds, A Festival Inspired by Aristophanes, the Speaking Truth to Power series at BAM, and, most of all, the upcoming Onassis Festival 2019: Democracy Is Coming at the Public Theater.

“In the U.S.—as we examine our notions of democracy, cities, and the ways culture and the arts can effect change—I am thrilled to join the Onassis teams here and in Athens, and to continue that urgent exploration with new work, new ideas, new forms, and new audiences.”

Afroditi Panagiotakou, director of culture of the Onassis Foundation, said: “We are at the beginning of a new era for Onassis Culture in Athens, New York, and beyond. Vallejo Gantner’s talent, vision, and innate curiosity are perfectly compatible with our strategy for the future. I am excited to see him lead Onassis USA to new heights.”

Gantner helped to organise a series of Indigenous-led performances, discussions, workshops, meetings, and ceremony in venues across New York City in January 2019. It was part of a transnational consortium that included Emily Johnson (USA), BlakDance (Australia), Ilbijerri Theatre Company (Australia), and Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance (Canada).

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