Victory Gardens Theater has selected Ken-Matt Martin as Artistic Director, following an executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). He began his tenure on April 19, 2021.
Mr. Martin most recently served as Associate Producer at the Goodman Theatre, where he participated in season planning and was responsible for producing all productions, programs, and special events for the artistic department. Notable accomplishments included co-creating and curating the Future Labs new play development program and creating and producing the weekly Live @ 5 virtual show during the pandemic. Prior to his time at the Goodman Theatre, Mr. Martin worked as the 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. Inspired by the Black Arts Movement, Mr. Martin co-founded the Des Moines-based Pyramid Theatre Company in 2013, where he served as Executive Director until 2018. The only theater company committed to Black writers in the state of Iowa, the Pyramid Theatre Company dedicates itself to the tenet of Sankofa, a word in the Akan language of Ghana meaning “return to retrieve.”
Mr. Martin began his career in the performing arts as a child actor after an appearance on Nickelodeon’s landmark series All That. 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. He currently serves as a board member of Season of Concern and as a consultant and anti-racism facilitator for New York City Center, Design Action, and Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Mr. Martin holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theatre and bachelor of journalism and mass communication from Drake University as well as a master of fine arts degree in directing from Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company.
In making the announcement, Board President Charles E. Harris II said, “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 Mr. 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.”
“Best wishes to Ken-Matt Martin on his appointment as Artistic Director at Victory Gardens Theater,” said ACG Senior Vice President Wyona Lynch-McWhite. “His passion for new works and innovative theater, as well as his commitment to advancing equity and inclusion, will allow Victory Gardens Theater to build upon its unique ability to foster meaningful dialogue about societal issues.”