Laura Savia Appointed Vice President of Performing and Visual Arts
CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Chautauqua Institution today announced the appointment of Laura Savia as Vice President of Performing and Visual Arts following an extensive national search. In this role, Savia will be a critical member of the Institution’s senior management team, overseeing all activities in the performing and visual arts including the popular summer Amphitheater concert series; the resident Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Chautauqua Opera Company & Conservatory, Chautauqua Theater Company and Chautauqua Visual Arts programs; the prestigious Chautauqua Festival Schools of Performing and Visual Arts; and highly regarded series in dance, chamber music and family entertainment.
An accomplished artistic leader who has served in key roles at world-class arts institutions, Savia joins Chautauqua after more than a decade with the Tony Award-winning Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she serves as Associate Artistic Director.
“Laura is just the dynamic leader to bring our arts programming to the next level of excellence — and she will do this with a healthy balance of empathy, grace, daring and passion. Her enviable career in theater as a director, producer and leader in community engagement will further guide Chautauqua toward our goal to convene multidisciplinary conversations that bring value and meaning to our lives,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, Senior Vice President and Chief Program Officer and Savia’s predecessor in the Vice President role. “I’m excited for Laura to begin her work with our amazing artistic leadership and staff as we build toward greater excellence, equity, inclusivity and impact in our programs. It will be a joy to introduce Laura to our arts-loving Chautauqua community, as they are known for cherishing rich artistic tradition and gathering with a deep curiosity that celebrates creativity and creatives in this special place.”
Savia will be based in the New York City metropolitan area outside of Chautauqua’s traditional Summer Assembly, affording her regular access both to Chautauqua’s artistic leadership, most of whom are also New York-based, and to the artists, organizations and leaders that make that city the worldwide epicenter of the performing and visual arts. She will begin her work for Chautauqua on March 7 and will travel regularly to the Institution’s main offices in Western New York to oversee staff and build community connections.
“Chautauqua Institution excites me because of its unparalleled ability to offer visitors a panoply of exceptional arts experiences as part of a deeper exploration of the best in human values. No other entity in the country endeavors to convene an audience with such a holistic approach, and I am humbled by the opportunity to be a part of this important work,” Savia said. “I am honored to be leading the Performing and Visual Arts team, and am committed to furthering its legacy of artistic integrity, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and community engagement, centering equity and inclusion, and innovating partnerships with other major organizations in the American arts field.”
At Williamstown, Savia played a major role in programming, producing and casting the festival’s seven-show seasons and slates of special events including concerts and comedy. She was instrumental in the festival’s shift to producing primarily world premieres, many of which transferred to Broadway and off-Broadway stages each year, cementing Williamstown as what The New York Times called “a theatrical powerhouse.” Highlights include Bess Wohl’s Grand Horizons, Adam Rapp’s The Sound Inside, and Martyna Majok’s Cost of Living (which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama). Savia also created and ran Community Works, Williamstown’s radically inclusive, year-round community engagement initiative in Western Massachusetts, working closely with long-time collaborator Lucy Thurber. She oversaw the festival’s literary operations, nurturing several dozen commissions by playwrights and composers including Halley Feiffer, Justin Levine, Harrison David Rivers and James Anthony Tyler. Also under her purview were the festival’s renowned training programs. She served as a liaison for partnerships and collaborations with organizations such as Forest of Arden, Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Amazon’s Audible.com.
Prior to Williamstown, Savia served on the artistic staff of Atlantic Theater Company for five years, during a time of significant growth, a major capital campaign, and the transfers of multiple productions to Broadway, including Spring Awakening, which garnered eight Tony Awards.
As a director, Savia has helmed dozens of new plays and musicals including many centering BIPOC and LGBTQ+ stories. Her production of Jonathan Caren’s The Recommendation (IAMA Theatre Company) won an Ovation Award for Best Production, and her production of Shakina Nayfack’s Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club (WTF and Audible) won a Drama League Award for Outstanding Audio Theatre Production. Her staging of Ryan J. Haddad’s Hi, Are You Single? has been seen at the Public Theater, the Guthrie, and Woolly Mammoth.
Savia is also a passionate educator, having taught acting and directing at New York University / Strasberg Institute, Fordham University, and The New School. She began her career as a teaching artist and an assistant director, most notably to Daniel Sullivan on productions for The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park and on Broadway, starring luminaries including Anne Hathaway and Al Pacino. She is an alum of The Drama League Directors Project and graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University.
ABOUT CHAUTAUQUA INSTITUTION
Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer — and year-round through the CHQ Assembly online platforms — with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through engaged dialogue.
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