March 17, 2021
Victory Gardens Theater is pleased to announce Ken-Matt Martin has been appointed Artistic Director, following an open nationwide search that began last fall in partnership with Arts Consulting Group (ACG). Martin will officially begin his tenure at Victory Gardens Theater on April 19, 2021.
Ken-Matt Martin was born in Little Rock, AR and began his life in the performing arts as a child actor after an appearance on Nickelodeon’s landmark series All That. He received theatrical training at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Drake University (Musical Theatre/Journalism), and Brown University/Trinity Rep (MFA in Directing). Following a decade-long stint as a professional actor, he transitioned to directing and producing full-time, adopting the personal mission of using theater as a catalyst for social change. Inspired by the Black Arts Movement, Martin co-founded Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, IA where he served as Executive Director until 2018. The company commits itself to the tenet of Sankofa, a word in the Akan language of Ghana meaning “return to retrieve,” and is the only theater company committed to Black writers in the state of Iowa. Selected directing credits include productions of Civil Sex by Brian Freeman, Mississippi Goddamn by Jonathan Norton, Tripping Over Roots by Jaymes Jorsling, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Prowess by Ike Holter, Shakuntala, tick..tick..Boom and a film entitled The Last Supper being released later this year. In 2018, Martin was named Producing Director of Williamstown Theatre Festival, where he produced the world premiere productions of Grand Horizons, Selling Kabul, Before The Meeting, A Human Being of A Sort, Tell Me I’m Not Crazy, and revivals of Ghosts starring Uma Thurman and A Raisin in the Sun directed by Robert O’Hara. In the fall of 2019, he joined Goodman Theatre as Associate Producer, where he co-created and curated the Future Labs new play development program and also created and produced Live @ 5 during the pandemic. Since moving to Chicago, he joined the board of Season of Concern, and also serves as a consultant and anti-racism facilitator for New York City Center, Design Action, and Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
Victory Gardens Board President Charles E. Harris II shares, “We are excited to welcome our new artistic leader, and the vision he brings to Victory Gardens. Ken-Matt will continue the theater’s traditions of new play development and programming that spark conversation and social change, and we look forward to deepening our commitment to our core values of diversity, innovation, excellence, and accessibility under his leadership. While there are numerous challenges to overcome as we return to live production in a post-pandemic world, I am confident that Victory Gardens will thrive under Ken-Matt, and will return better than ever.”
“I am humbled and honored to have been named Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theater,” says Ken-Matt Martin. “I cannot wait to bring more ambitious and innovative new plays to the Biograph that will feature our brilliant Chicago artists and playwrights, and find continued opportunities for theater-makers from across the country to develop their work here with us. I look forward to meeting and collaborating with the staff, artists, board and audiences who already love this great theater, while also attracting new patrons and collaborators. I am committed to ensuring Victory Gardens always lives up to its values as we enter this new chapter in its history. At a time where there has been so much loss and pain for our industry and the world, I am excited to chart a course for the future that positions Victory Gardens as an institution inspiring meaningful civic change within our city and nation.”
Ken-Matt Martin was appointed to the position of Artistic Director after a six-month search, led by Wyona Lynch-McWhite at Arts Consulting Group. “ACG were fantastic partners in this search,” states AD Search Committee co-chair E. Patrick Johnson. “They provided essential groundwork and information for the search committee, ensuring that the search process was as equitable, fair and transparent as possible.”
“On behalf of the entire board, thank you to the search committee for its engagement and work,” says Sidney Lee, AD Search Committee co-chair. “With input from not only the board and staff, but artists and members of the wider VG community, we have found a candidate who reflects the values of Victory Gardens and will drive us forward in fulfilling our mission.”
Candidates for the Artistic Director position interviewed with ACG and the search committee. Finalists met with the full staff and board, as well as invited members of the community, for conversation and learning.
“We are thrilled to welcome Ken-Matt to the staff, and cannot wait to begin working with him,” shares Acting Managing Director Roxanna Conner. “As we prepare for a return to the Biograph Theater, we look forward to the immediate impact Ken-Matt will have on our artistic and community programming, alongside his experience in driving equity at all levels of the organization.”
On behalf of the entire board and staff, thank you, our artist community, for your patience and continued support of and engagement with Victory Gardens as we completed this search. Your investment in us makes our work possible, and we cannot wait to begin our next chapter with you by our side.