Newark Symphony Hall (NSH), New Jersey’s largest Black-led arts and entertainment venue, announced today that they have elected a new chair of the hall’s 19-member board of directors—Newark’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Director, fayemi shakur.
As chair, shakur will provide strategic fundraising and programming counsel on virtual events and ongoing racial justice initiatives. This will include NSH staff-led programs designed to bring more diverse populations to arts careers, both onstage and behind the scenes.
“Newark Symphony Hall’s historic stage represents the cultural backbone of our city, and I’m pleased that fayemi shakur, Newark’s arts and cultural affairs director, has been elected to preside over its Board of Directors,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “Her sound counsel on the venue’s arts programming and fundraising efforts will have a dynamic and positive impact for years to come, enhancing our city’s luster as a center for the arts and ensuring that residents and visitors alike enjoy world-class quality performances at Symphony Hall.”
With an accomplished background that includes serving as executive director at City Without Walls gallery, co-founding The Annual Lincoln Park Music Festival, and founding of A Womb of Violet, a project-based collective created to celebrate the work of Black women writers, poets and interdisciplinary artists (to name a few), shakur is more than qualified for the position. Other notable achievements include writing pieces featured in established publications such as The New York Times, CNN Style, and more.
“fayemi’s reputation demonstrates a commitment to cultural organizing, mentorship and engaging programming that explores art that challenges the way we see and experience the world, ourselves and each other,” said NSH President and CEO, Taneshia Nash Laird, the sole Black female leader of a performing arts center in New Jersey. “We’re thrilled to have her as chairwoman of our board and value her input. Overall, we anticipate success in the months ahead—in everything from enriching new programming to several community and economic development initiatives.”
According to NSH, they remain as committed as ever to providing an artistically rich experience for art lovers of all ages, while creating career pathways for people of color from around the world—all with the collective goal of bettering both the community and the Greater Newark region. With NSH, shakur has already helped promote new virtual programming (beginning March 2021) and is thrilled at the prospect of continuing.
“Newark Symphony Hall’s vibrant cultural history deserves to be celebrated,” said shakur. “I’m excited and humbled to chair its board of directors – comprised of such talented professionals, who have worked tirelessly to preserve and support the venue’s growth and long-term sustainability. This is important and joyful work.”