The pioneering Brooklyn arts purveyor named a new president last week to take the helm amid its 40th anniversary serving the local community.
BRIC tapped Kristina Newman-Scott to take over for its outgoing president of 13 years, Leslie Griesbach Schultz, next month.
Newman-Scott will become the first person of color to lead the Fort Greene arts and media organization, which produces cultural and educational television series and documentaries, hosts concerts, and curates art shows.
The mother of two moved from her native Jamaica as a teen and has since worked as an artist creating paintings and installations, before becoming a curator — often working with artists and studios in Brooklyn — then as an arts administrator, director, and most recently the Director of Culture and State Historic Preservation Officer for the State of Connecticut, in which she was also the first immigrant and woman of color to take on that role.
Newman-Scott begins her new gig on Sept. 4, when she will join just a handful of other women of color overseeing large cultural institutions in New York, according to the New York Times.
Julianne Cuba: Welcome to Brooklyn and to BRIC! What are you looking forward to in your new position?
Kristina Newman-Scott: Do you have four days? I feel really great and extremely excited about this position. I’m really excited about all of it. I’m excited that all of these avenues are able to reach people and touch people with the work we’re doing. I’m ready to jump into a position that allows me to tap into experiences and leaderships roles I’ve played throughout my careers.
JC: How have your past jobs prepared you for this one?
KNS: I’ve really been fortunate to have the opportunity to grow within the arts, with very distinct experiences. Working in government in the arts for the last seven-and-a-half-years both gives me an opportunity to translate some of what I’ve learned — the role the arts plays in community, economic development, and alongside community leaders. I’ll be coming in and really thinking holistically about our curators’ vision and strategy, how we do what we do, how it’s all interconnected.
JC: What will your first few days on the job look like? What do you hope to accomplish?
KNS: All I really want to tackle on the first day and first few months is truly understand the people that work at BRIC, the people on the front lines of the work — our education programs, or celebrate Brooklyn, or BRIC TV — better understand all the people that work at BRIC no matter what role they play, to better understand the organization. I’m committed to how we can do things better, things we’re doing fantastic already, and better serve the people who enjoy.”
JC: What do you hope to change or expand upon what your predecessor created?
KNS: The previous president has done a phenomenal job. I’m walking into a very fantastic and healthy organization. I want to continue to be relevant and inclusive, how we get from inside to outside, making sure we reach a child and all the way to their grandparents.
JC: What does it mean to you to be the first person, and first woman, of color to lead this trailblazing organization, and how will it shape the way you approach the job?
KNS: That means so much in so many different ways. I’m just really excited to be in this role at this time and this moment. I will continue to think about diverse voices at the table, the LGBTQ community, gender neutral, disabled people — I think about that as a way of working and living everyday, an extension of who I am.
JC: What else are you looking forward to at BRIC?
KNS: I’m extremely excited to start living in Brooklyn. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a big change for my family. And earlier in my career, I’ve been really blessed to work with amazing artists across the nation — so many artists that live in Brooklyn — I’m so excited to reconnect. I’m very excited to work with the board at BRIC, they are some phenomenal people.