Deborah F. Rutter named incoming President of The Kennedy Center

After a nearly year long national search for an executive to take over the responsibilities of its outgoing president, Michael M. Kaiser, The John F. Kennedy Center announced its choice yesterday.  On September 1st, Deborah F. Rutter will become the third president in the history of the institution.

Deborah F. Rutter (Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center)

Deborah F. Rutter (Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center)

Ms. Rutter, currently the President of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, emerged from a field of 15 – 25 candidates  considered by the search committee, which included Caroline Kennedy. The 57 year old Rutter, who has also provided leadership to the Seattle Symphony, has been widely recognized as one of the top arts administrators in the country.

Ms. Rutter stated, “It is a true privilege to be asked to lead this unparalleled institution. The Kennedy Center represents the very best of American culture of all forms, and I am honored at the prospect of building on the great work of my predecessor, Michael Kaiser. I thank the search committee and especially its co-chairs David Rubenstein and Tony Welters, for their commitment and the significant dialogue we had in the course of the last few months. I am incredibly excited about the future of this institution and the opportunity to work with its great artists and leaders: Christoph Eschenbach, Suzanne Farrell, Jason Moran, Francesca Zambello, as well as the Kennedy Center’s many talented staff, volunteers, and supporters.”

Mr. Kaiser commented in an article in the Huffington Post: “Deborah is smart, creative, kind, and experienced. I cannot imagine anyone in whom I would have more confidence to lead the Center.”

Although Mr. Kaiser’s last day as president will be August 31, 2014, it by no means marks his retirement from the arts. He will move the Kennedy Center’s DeVos Institute of Arts Management, which he founded in 2001, to the University of Maryland where he has agreed to serve through 2017. We are reminded that, as the recession of 2009 was seriously impacting theatre companies, Kaiser assembled a team of mentors to work with arts companies around the country titled  “Arts in Crisis: A Kennedy Center Initiative.”  We know the head of one fledgling theatre company in the area who received a phone message: “Hello. This is Michael Kaiser, and I’ll be your mentor.”

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