Folger Shakespeare Library has selected Karen Ann Daniels as Director of Programming and Artistic Director, following an executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). She began her tenure on September 30, 2021.
An accomplished actor, director, playwright, vocalist, and musician, Ms. Daniels most recently worked as Director of Mobile Unit for The Public Theater, bringing theater and the arts to community centers and spaces around New York City. She notably oversaw the Mobile Unit’s Summer of Joy, a free four-week tour to public plazas in all five boroughs in partnership with the National Black Theatre, New York City's Department of Transportation, and the People’s Bus (a project of the NYC Civic Engagement Commission). She has also launched new programs such as Mobile Unit in Corrections: Hip Hop vs. Shakespeare, which brings the tools of theater to incarcerated communities. She has also served as Associate Director for the Arts Engagement Department at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, she managed community partnerships and created, piloted, and implemented cornerstone programs such as Globe for All, coLAB (devising plays with and for community), Community Voices (community as playwright), and Reflecting Shakespeare (Shakespeare in corrections).
Dr. Daniels served as Chair of the City of Chula Vista’s Cultural Arts Commission, held a seat on the New California Arts Fund Leadership committee, and was co-chair of the Learning Committee through The James Irvine Foundation. She is also a co-producer and facilitator for the Shakespeare in Prisons Network and biannual Shakespeare in Prisons Conference, which was part of the Folger Institute’s 2020–21 scholarly programs. Most recently, she has been selected as a 2021 Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity. Ms. Daniels holds a bachelor of arts in art history from University of California Los Angeles, master of fine arts in musical theater from San Diego State University, and a certificate in Shakespeare from the British American Drama Academy.
In making the announcement, Folger Director Michael Witmore said, “I’m delighted that Karen Ann Daniels is bringing her talents and experience to the Folger. She will bring her own deeply inclusive vision of Shakespeare to the work of Folger programs, connecting more deeply with DC communities and combining our public offerings—performance, music, poetry, humanities conversations, exhibitions—in new and exciting ways that build on the rich history of Folger public programs.”
“I believe the humanities and arts, particularly theater, are essential to evolve our ideological, emotional, and human connection, especially now,” said Ms. Daniels. “Ensuring these resources are available to all of DC is vital! I am so proud to join the Folger as it is uniquely positioned to fill that need.”
“Congratulations to the board and staff of the Folger Shakespeare Library on the appointment of Karen Ann Daniels as the new Director of Programming and Artistic Director,” said ACG Senior Vice President Wyona Lynch-McWhite. “Ms. Daniels is a creative and innovativehumanities programmer who is energized by new programs and partnerships. She will not only bring new ideas, but her collaborative approach will help engage the organization and its community partners.”