Rachel Cook, On the Boards New Artistic Director
Rachel Cook, On the Boards' New Artistic Director COURTESY OTB

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The performing arts organization On the Boards (OtB) has a lot to celebrate this year—for one, it's their 40th anniversary. And now, after a six month search, they've chosen a new artistic director: Rachel Cook.

After the departure of Lane Czaplinski, OtB’s artistic director for the last 15 years (who left to run the performing arts program at the Wexler Center in Ohio), they had a some big shoes to fill. Czaplinski created the Performance Production Program, which provides resources to local artists to fulfill their vision, and (most notably) started OntheBoards.tv in 2010, which brings full-length OtB performances to over 157 countries. He's also described as "a fearless karaoke singer."

So, who is Rachel Cook? She hails from Houston and was recently a curator at DiverseWorks, a center for visual, literary, and performing art. According to the OtB press release:

Prior to joining DiverseWorks, Cook worked for dOCUMENTA(13)’s publication team, and was a fellow for the International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York. Cook holds a MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Last year she received a Curatorial Fellowship from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to research a series of Walker Evans’ photographs from the African Negro Art exhibition at MoMA in 1935.

"I am eager to begin getting to know everyone better and initiate collaborations with artists and the community to further re-imagine how a contemporary performing arts organization can contribute to the critical discourse about art and the world we live in today,” Cook says.

“Rachel is one of those rare individuals who excels at both the day-to-day brass tacks that keep an organization running, and the philosophical questioning that is so vital to keeping an organization from becoming mired in business as usual," said writer and On the Boards artist-in-residence Claudia La Rocco. "The stakes for making artistic organizations relevant in our society feel really high right now. Rachel is keenly aware of those stakes; I’m excited to see what sorts of magic and mischief she’ll make in Seattle.”

This all sounds very exciting! We're excited to see what Cook will bring to the table at an organization known for fearlessly taking risks with their programming, and, hope she's good at karaoke, too.