The artistic director of the internationally renowned Seattle performance-art venue is leaving for a role at the Wexner Center at Ohio State University.
After 15 years as the leader of Seattle performance-art venue On the Boards, Lane Czaplinski is stepping down to take a job as director of performing arts at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University.
“When I got to On the Boards, people predicted I wouldn’t last for five years,” Artistic Director Czaplinski said. “But I’m an old jock — so, as they say in sports, 15 years is a good run.”
The Wexner Center is about a $10 million organization, while On the Boards has a $1.7 million operating budget. “It’s a much bigger staff, much bigger institution,” Czaplinski said. “I want to work more on being a curator, being a producer, writing and making trouble in Ohio.”
Founded by artists in the late 1970s, On the Boards has been a hub of dance, theater, music and interdisciplinary work from around the world (including Crystal Pite, The Wooster Group, Bill T. Jones and Sankai Juku), as well as an incubator for local artists like choreographer Pat Graney and writer/actor Sarah Rudinoff.
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On the Boards has seen other departures in the past year, from Executive Director Sarah Wilke, who left to work at the Seattle International Film Festival, to longtime box-office employee and musician Erin Jorgensen.
“When you light a bunch of candles all at once,” Czaplinski said, “they tend to go out at the same time.”
Global art and performance, he said, is more important than ever. The next season at On the Boards opens with a performance by Belarus Free Theatre, an independent organization in the Republic of Belarus in Eastern Europe, where recently there have been street protests.
Members of Belarus Free Theatre are “getting beaten up and arrested by the police — it’s horrible what’s happening there,” Czaplinski said. “The censorship, the oppression, preventing people from getting online. I’m just trying to negotiate their contract and they’re not getting back to me because they’re either in jail or in the hospital.”
Czaplinski said he’ll be in Seattle for the PJ Harvey concert at WaMu Theater on May 5, then “get in a van with my two cats, my girlfriend, and hit the road.”