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Prescott Park Arts Festival Chooses New Executive Director

April 8, 2020

Seacoastonline.com: The Prescott Park Arts Festival announced Wednesday that Courtney Perkins will be its new executive director, effective May 15.

Perkins comes to the Festival from Chicago where she spent 12 years with Chicago Sinfonietta. As the group’s chief operating officer, she worked side by side with the CEO, managing a $2.6 million nonprofit orchestra committed to innovation, diversity, equity, and inclusion in classical music.

“Courtney Perkins is the right person to lead the festival both now with all the challenges it faces, and in the future. She combines love for, and experience with, great artistic presentations along with an energetic, people-focused leadership style, and a ‘roll up the sleeves’ work ethic,” said John Tabor, chairman of the Prescott Park Arts Festival Board of Directors. “We’re excited for her to start. She was tops of 42 applicants in a very thorough search process.”

Perkins was selected by the board of directors following a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group that attracted candidates from across the United States. A former attorney, Perkins deliberately chose to dedicate her career to ensuring great art reflects the community it serves. At the Sinfonietta, Perkins won several awards including the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions and the Spirit of Innovation Award. In addition to her previous role at Chicago Sinfonietta, Perkins was also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia College Chicago and DePaul University where she taught courses for emerging arts administrators and professionals in fundraising, and grant writing.

“It’s an honor to have been chosen as the new PPAF ED,” said Perkins. “I consider it a true privilege and a passion to ensure everyone has access to great art, which is what drew me to the legacy of PPAF. I very much look forward to working with the PPAF team to present creative and thoughtful programming to PPAF and to immersing myself in the very special community of Portsmouth and the Seacoast.”

Perkins will replace Ben Anderson who previously led the organization for just under 13 years. The festival ’s search committee, led by Michael Harrison, included board members Elisabeth Robinson and Tabor as well as Russ Grazier of Portsmouth Music and Arts Center, and MIchael and Susan Labrie of River House restaurant, one of the festival’s major sponsors.

The festival has been at work curating the 2020 River House Restaurant Concert Series and has announced “School of Rock” as one of its musicals to be produced this summer. A second musical will be announced soon.

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