People in the News

KenCen Artistic Planner Heads to LA's Wallis Center

March 14, 2023 | By Susan Elliott, Musical America

Robert van Leer, most recently VP of artistic planning at the Kennedy Center, is to be the new executive director and CEO of California’s Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performng Arts as of April 1. He succeeds Rachel Fine, who left in August and is now heading up the Yale Schwarzman Center (YSC), which the university defines as its "first-ever center for student life and the arts."

Van Leer’s accomplishments at the Kennedy Center, where he oversaw a $90 million budget, include the launch in 2019 of REACH, the indoor/outdoor space geared to community and new-artist interaction, and the introduction of hip hop and social impact programming.  

Prior to that he was managing director of Nederlands Dans Theater in The Hague and before that served as an arts consultant. He also served as head of music and arts projects at the Barbican for 15 years.  David Bohnett, Wallis executive committee chairman and a trustee of Kennedy Center, cited his hire’s “network of relationships with creative talent and executive leadership in the arts” as “multi-disciplinary and global.”

Van Leer holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and has taken a number of “executive education” courses at Harvard and the University of Michigan.



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