c/o Wesleyan.edu

c/o Wesleyan.edu

The University has selected Joshua Lubin-Levy ’06 to become the new Director of the Center for the Arts (CFA). Lubin-Levy officially assumed the role of CFA director on Monday, Aug. 22, replacing Interim Director Jennifer Calienes. Calienes served as interim CFA director from Spring 2020 onwards after the former director, Sarah Curran, left the University in Fall 2019.

In Fall 2021, the University conducted a series of internal and external reviews of CFA operations in order to create a fleshed-out position description for the director. The full position description was then posted in February 2022. The search committee—which included staff and faculty from the various arts departments, the CFA, and University administration—was tasked with fielding around 100 applicants from across all artistic disciplines.

“Before reviewing the applications, the committee developed a rubric for evaluation of the applications that was based on the job position posting,” Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Title IX Officer Alison Williams ’81, who co-chaired the CFA Director Search Committee with Provost Nicole Stanton, wrote in an email to The Argus. “We then read each application and scored it against our rubric (exceeds criteria, meets criteria, or doesn’t meet criteria). Then we met to discuss the candidates and narrow the number down to 40 and then down to the 12 or so that we interviewed via Zoom.”

Williams noted the six categories in which the committee assessed candidates: leadership and management; innovation and creative vision; finance and budget management; diversity, equity, access, and inclusive practices; cross-disciplinary knowledge; and communication skills.

“The committee was very impressed by [Lubin-Levy]’s rare combination of experience in both the visual and performing arts,” Stanton wrote. “The community as a whole responded to his leadership experience, commitment to collaboration, and enthusiasm about Wesleyan and the CFA.”

Lubin-Levy, while working as the Associate Director for the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance, became aware of the CFA director vacancy back in 2019 and applied for the position before Calienes was chosen as the interim director. When the search process re-opened this April, Stanton, alongside the Dean of Arts and Humanities Roger Grant, reached out to Lubin-Levy, asking him to apply and spread the word.

“It was apparent during the search process that Wesleyan was looking for a different kind of director, someone who could help foster interdisciplinary collaborations between the departments, not control resources and not be a gatekeeper in terms of resources on campus, which is sort of historically part of…the problem of what the CFA had been,” Lubin-Levy said. 

Lubin-Levy hopes to orient the CFA towards having a more sustainable relationship with artists, allowing for more student engagement through longer-term involvement with the University. After working with artists in New York City personally and professionally for years, Lubin-Levy noted that combining the nitty-gritty of life in the arts with the academic bubble found at the University would be one of his major goals.

“We’re not asking artists to leave their world behind and come join Wesleyan, but instead saying, ‘How do we meet you in your practice where you already are and how do we kind of contribute to that ongoing work?’” Lubin-Levy said.

He also wants to expand the interdisciplinary involvement of the arts with other academic fields.

“[Artists] are no longer hermetically sealed in the tradition of painting or the tradition of dance,” Lubin-Levy said. “The arts provide this totally nonfunctional space where we can rehearse other ways of being together and experiment socially. The possibility to imagine other worlds is precisely the way that we can generate social and political momentum to actually transform the world that we live in.”

One of the goals that Lubin-Levy and the rest of the CFA team hope to achieve is the equitable expansion of artistic culture on campus, weighing factors such as underrepresentation, lack of resources, and institutional racism.

“The CFA can be a space that is dedicated to supporting underrepresented and under-resourced artists,” Lubin-Levy said. “I think that’s a really key thing to me. It is more than just about who are we presenting and working with, but also how are we structuring our team? How are we structuring our workflow to be aligned with…an anti-racist practice?”

Another one of Lubin-Levy’s major goals is making the CFA director more accessible to the general student body, whether that be through teaching, consulting, or simply sitting in on rehearsals.

“I would really like to find a way for the CFA director to teach classes, to have office hours and to be available to students, not as an authority figure on campus, but as a collaborator, a dramaturg,” Lubin-Levy said.

In the broader sphere of higher education, especially at the University, Lubin-Levy hopes he can work to further legitimize an arts education in an increasingly utilitarian workforce. 

“These days, everybody has to have multiple jobs, wear multiple hats, and that range of creativity is something that the arts has always taught,” Lubin-Levy said. “How to develop your own practice, how to work in a way that’s authentic to you, but also to put that in conversation with others, share your work with other people, develop a community, for better or worse. That’s what artists have had to figure out a way to do under impossible circumstances.”

Lubin-Levy hopes that more students—especially those who might have entirely counted out the arts as a possible field of study—can interact with the CFA and artistic practices in general.

“I would love for the students coming in who are dedicated to bio to stay dedicated to bio, but have the opportunity to interact with arts,” Lubin-Levy said. “Maybe it’s not taking an art class, but maybe there is somehow a way that arts starts to migrate across campus and become part of that space in a conscious way where we’re not just decorating the halls of the science building, but the arts are really treated as another way of engaging with what your interests already are.”

After only a few weeks of being in the role, Lubin-Levy is still learning the ropes of the position but is enthusiastic about joining the CFA’s team.

“I’m really excited to have the campus resume its full life now and really to get the chance to be there with the whole community—meaning all the students,” Lubin-Levy said.

Stanton expressed that after all the care and thought that was put into the search process, she is hopeful that Lubin-Levy will continue to push the CFA forward into a brighter future. Williams echoed a similar sentiment, also noting the relief that having Lubin-Levy will provide the CFA given its recent turnover in direction.

“My hope is that [Lubin-Levy] will bring stability to the CFA which has not had permanent leadership in some time,” Williams wrote. “I hope that the CFA can be a place that is innovative and inclusive—a place that can help us celebrate the diversity of human experience and expression and that uses the Arts to challenge us all to be better human beings.”


Sam Hilton can be reached at shilton@wesleyan.edu.

Leo Bader can be reached at lbader@wesleyan.edu.

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