The Huntington names new artistic director

Loretta Greco had been holding out. She wanted the perfect job. Turns out, it was waiting for her in Boston. After a six-month search by The Huntington, Greco will take the helm as the theater's newest Norma Jean Calderwood Artistic Director this summer, becoming the first woman and the fourth artistic leader in the company’s 40 years. She previously worked for San Francisco’s Magic Theater where she spent 12 years as the artistic director. She will now lead an organization of 120 full-time staff members with an annual budget of $18 million, producing seven to eight shows each season and serving 200,000 audience members in several venues throughout the city.

It’s been a time of extreme transformation at The Huntington — and for all theaters — between the push and pull of returning to the stage as well as adjusting protocols during a pandemic. This pause also offered an opportunity to really consider their identity and mission.

Loretta Greco (Courtesy The Huntington)
Loretta Greco (Courtesy The Huntington)

“The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to wrap my arms around the staff and I'm going to listen,” she said. “I'm going to see what seeds they want to plant. And then I'm going to try and plant some little seeds, too, and we'll see what cross-fertilizes and what we can pollinate.”

She said to be a flagship theater in a city is to be a motherboard. It means modeling leadership and asking questions. “What are people happy about? What are people pissed off about? Where do they think that we have something to offer that they need to be even more successful at what they're doing?”

Her enthusiasm and consistent work as a community builder and director really distinguished her as a candidate, according to Michael Maso, managing director at The Huntington.
“There are two things you have to hold in your hand,” Maso said. “One is a really high level of artistry, somebody who understands what great theater is and who has the ability to nurture artists…the second is you really need a leader; a leader of an institution, a leader of staff, a leader of program and someone who understands how to build community and [who is] part of that community while leading it. That's something that we believe we found in Loretta Greco.”

The announcement released Tuesday noted that Greco will play a “leading role in The Huntington’s commitment to becoming a more equitable and antiracist organization.” In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, The Huntington was called on by staff of color to engage with and commit itself to address issues of systemic racism and become a place that better advocates for artists of color. It released its Anti-Racist Strategic Action Plan last August that listed measured efforts and noted the call to action by “We See You White American Theater” as one of the many catalysts for change.

“We know the composition of our staff, executive leadership and board, does not reflect all of the community we seek to serve,” the strategic plan read. “We know not all BIPOC artists and staff members we have employed have felt embraced and supported by the organization.”

The Huntington leadership praised Greco in their announcement as a “passionate advocate for BIPOC artists and a champion of new plays.” She’s worked with prominent artists including Luis Alfaro, Taylor Mac, Jessica Hagedorn, John Kolvenbach, Sam Shepard, Octavio Solis, among others.

Bethany Ford, director of production at The Huntington, served on the search committee and says Greco is arriving at a critical time. “Loretta Greco joins us at an inflection point in the institution’s history and she will undoubtedly inspire creative programming and new ideas, bring together our staff and artists, and help us center equity and diversity in our work.”

Loretta Greco during a rehearsal. (Courtesy The Huntington)
Loretta Greco during a rehearsal. (Courtesy The Huntington)

“If it's going to be excellent and you're really looking at the range of voices, it's going to be diverse,” Greco said. “This is not about a grant or a moment. This is about the work we make looking like the world around us and that there's a beautiful myriad of stories being told that look like the city of Boston. This is a changing world. Some people have not gotten the memo, but it's time.”

At the core of creating radically adventurous programming, Greco says is a willingness to say yes.

“I don't believe in taking a survey of what's going to make everybody feel good. People will say they know what they like, but what they really mean is they like what they know,” she said. “And so your job as a leader is to guide and curate the conversations. And it's to say yes, even when you don't know what the outcome is going to be. You have your good instincts and you believe in the artist.”

Greco joins The Huntington immediately as a consultant before joining full-time on July 1.


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Cristela Guerra Reporter
Cristela Guerra is an arts and culture reporter for WBUR.



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