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Public Affairs

Acclaimed arts executive leads arts center

January 30, 2007

Photo of Jeffrey BabcockJeffrey N. Babcock, who has more than 30 years of experience in performing arts and international cultural leadership, has been named executive director of SF State's International Center for the Arts after a national search. His appointment was effective Jan. 2.

"Jeffrey Babcock's accomplishments in the arts illustrate rare breadth and depth, covering music, dance and theatre, international cultural events as well as such areas as new media and television production," said John Gemello, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Under his leadership, the International Center for the Arts is positioned to offer innovative programs that promote awareness and appreciation of global arts and culture."

Since 2003, Babcock has run his own Phoenix-based firm, Cultural Strategies, where he consulted with nonprofit and for-profit arts organizations on such issues as strategic planning, business formation, fundraising, crisis management, marketing, branding and Web-based media.

While general director and chief executive officer of the Boston Ballet -- the nation's fourth largest professional ballet company -- from 1998 to 2001, Babcock led a period of significant growth. He led increases in revenue and attendance, including a 50-percent enrollment increase in the company's renowned Center for Dance Education, developed a new 16,000-square-foot studio, and managed a transition in artistic leadership.

Babcock was artistic director and executive producer of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Arts Festival and four-year Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta that drew audiences of nearly 5 million people from around the world to more than 300 music, dance and theatre performances, more than 35 visual arts and humanities exhibits, and an Olympic gathering of Nobel laureates of literature at the Carter Presidential Center.

Babcock and San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas founded the Miami-based New World Symphony, where Babcock served as president and CEO. Babcock also co-founded and managed the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute with artistic directors Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas and Daniel Lewis.

Babcock has served as dean of the Boston University College of Fine Arts and was founding executive director of the Clarice Smith Center for the Arts at University of Maryland, College Park.

He is a composer who has written and produced an opera, "Mirrors," as well as works for orchestra, dance, chorus, chamber music, electronic and computer music, and jazz. He is an experienced conductor and a professional musician who plays keyboards, bass and tuba.

Babcock earned his doctorate in music composition from University of California, Santa Barbara, where he also later received a Distinguished Alumni Award.

"The International Center for the Arts has tremendous potential to build on its existing strengths and become a premier artistic and educational resource, given San Francisco State University's longtime excellence in the arts and commitment to global endeavors," Babcock said. "The ICA is an innovative cultural and educational ambassador that seeks to partner and collaborate with both international and Bay Area arts and collegiate institutions and is actively pursuing opportunities to leverage creative technologies in its programs to extend the center's reach and impact."

The International Center for the Arts, founded in 2005 with a $3 million gift from alumni George and Judy Marcus, celebrates some of the world's most innovative art and artists, with a current focus on documentary film and visual art. The center has presented art exhibits on Cuba, gender and sexuality, and the environment. It has also presented Afro-Cuban jazz concerts featuring an all-star ensemble led by Israel "Cachao" Lopez and chamber music featuring Grammy-winning Eastern European orchestra Kremerata Baltica.

The center's Documentary Film Institute has presented film festivals focused on the environment and the work of legendary filmmakers Richard Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker and Frederick Wiseman. The institute's next event, "Witness to War" from March 1 to 4, will honor documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and feature a preview screening of his new PBS epic, "The War."

-- Matt Itelson


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Last modified January 30, 2007 by University Communications