SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community) has selected Evelyn A. Francis as Director of Programs, following a national executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). She will begin her tenure on November 16, 2020.
Ms. Francis is an innovative theater artist, educator, and administrator with more than 20 years of experience providing artistic vision, building equitable programming, and working with community-based artists on theatrical shows, fundraisers, concerts, commercials, art exhibits, parades, and festivals. Most recently, she served as Producing Co-Executive Director at The Theatre Offensive (TTO) in Boston. While at TTO, she provided fiscal management and oversight of $1.7 million budget in collaboration with the board and finance committee, co-led donor relations and fundraising efforts, served as a liaison to local and national arts and culture cohorts, and managed a capital project to prospect a $10 million performing arts center, collaborating with the City of Boston, developers, architects, and project manager on architectural plans and a feasibility study. Prior to becoming Producing Co-Executive Director, she held the roles as Director of Programs and Director of Education with TTO.
Ms. Francis is the co-author of the Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project: Workbook & Guidebook and is the recipient of the President’s Committee for Arts and Humanities 2016 National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award, receiving the award from First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of TTO’s youth program True Colors. Ms. Francis is also Founding Co-Chair of the Pride Youth Theater Alliance, a growing network of organizations, programs, and leaders that advances the practice of Queer Youth Theater. She has also facilitated workshops and conferences sessions for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Theatre Communications Group, Americans for the Arts, Pride Youth Theater Alliance Annual Conference, National Task Force Creating Change Conference, Boston GLSEN Conference, Boston Trans Youth Summit, American Alliance of Theater and Education Annual Conference, True Colors, Inc. Conference, National Guild for Community Arts Education, Lesley University Arts and Healthcare Conference, and Tufts University Safe Schools Conference. In addition to her extensive training in arts administration, racial justice, and youth development, Ms. Francis holds a bachelor of arts in communication from Georgetown College and a master of arts in theatre education from Emerson College.
In making the announcement, Executive Director Ryan Ripperton said, “I am thrilled for Evelyn to join our team. Her expertise and passion for arts education, creative youth development, social justice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion make her an ideal leader as we continue to envision a bright future for our students, our organization, and our community.”
“This is a pivotal moment in history for our country and for Richmond,” said Ms. Francis. “I am excited to work with SPARC and the community in this moment of radical transformation. I know the powerful role arts education can play in the liberation of young people, and I can’t wait to get to work.”
“ACG was honored to work with the SPARC team to identify a skilled leader for the Director of Programs position,” said ACG Senior Vice President Wyona Lynch-McWhite. “Evelyn Francis was an excellent choice to guide the development, evaluation, and continuous enhancement of curriculum, build relationships, and leverage networks to increase awareness of SPARC’s mission and impact. Her dedication to youth development and community building will be a great asset as SPARC continues to profoundly influence young people’s lives through exceptional performing arts education.”
Photo Credit: Joel Benjamin