Aiyana Cunningham named new Managing Director

by | Jun 28, 2023 | News, Press

ART’s Board of Directors approved the recommendation by the search committee for the next Managing Director
Aiyana Cunningham named new Managing Director

PORTLAND, OREGON – June 27, 2023  Artists Repertory Theatre is thrilled to announce the appointment of Aiyana Cunningham as its new Managing Director. Cunningham has more than 15 years experience with Portland theatre groups, bringing vast experience, deep passion for the arts, and proven leadership skills to the job. These are paramount for guiding Artists Repertory Theatre into a new era of excellence and community engagement. 

Aiyana’s wealth of local knowledge and expertise comes from holding key leadership roles at places such as Portland Center Stage and Portland Playhouse. As the Development Director at the Playhouse, Aiyana stewarded a $1M campaign to secure the purchase of the Playhouse’s space. Her impressive background in theatre administration, as well as her commitment to cultivating strong community support will serve Artists Rep’s transition well.

I am honored and thrilled to become part of Artists Repertory Theatre. This organization has a long-standing commitment to artistic excellence and community impact, and I look forward to building upon its strong foundation.

Aiyana Cunningham

Managing Director

“I’m looking forward to having a partner in leadership who has deep roots in Portland’s theater ecosystem, as well as a successful track record and love of implementing big ideas,” says Artistic Director Jeanette Harrison. Cunningham’s understanding of the industry, combined with her dedication to fostering inclusive and diverse artistic environments, aligns perfectly with Artists Repertory Theatre’s mission.

Cunningham’s tenure as Managing Director will see her spearhead strategic planning, financial management, and operational oversight. She will work closely with the Board of Directors, staff, and the wider ART community to ensure the continued success and growth of Artists Repertory Theatre. Working alongside Artistic Director, Jeanette Harrison, Cunningham will partner to support the artistic vision and board objectives. Additionally, Cunningham will initially work closely with current Executive Director, J.S. May, who is moving out of his daily management role to focus entirely on completing the fundraising for ART’s new building.  “I couldn’t be happier to have Aiyana join Artists Rep. Her exceptional experience with capital campaigns as well as her commitment supporting local artists and excellence with promoting ambitious projects will make her a wonderful partner alongside Jeanette.” 

Aiyana Cunningham named new Managing Director

Artists Repertory Theatre began construction of the Morrison building. Rendering by LEVER Architecture.

Aiyana Cunningham expressed their excitement about joining Artists Repertory Theatre, stating, “I am honored and thrilled to become part of Artists Repertory Theatre. This organization has a long-standing commitment to artistic excellence and community impact, and I look forward to building upon its strong foundation. Together, we will champion the transformative power of theatre.”

The Board of Directors at Artists Repertory Theatre has expressed great confidence in Cunningham’s ability to lead the organization to new heights. Board Chairperson, Pancho Savery, said, “We are delighted to welcome Aiyana as our new Managing Director. Her vision, leadership, and commitment to equity align perfectly with ART’s values. We are confident that under her guidance, Artists Repertory Theatre will continue to thrive and evolve.”

As Artists Repertory Theatre’s new Managing Director, Aiyana Cunningham will assume her responsibilities on July 12th. The theatre community eagerly awaits her arrival and the fresh perspective she will bring to the organization’s artistic endeavors. 

ALJP Consulting led the executive search process, in partnership with a diverse search committee of stakeholders. Francesca McKenzie, Consultant at ALJP, said of the appointment, “Aiyana was the clear choice for this leadership role due to the glowing reviews and unabashed excitement we received from the ART community. Her enthusiasm and passion for the work, as well as her commitment to stewarding a culture of care, will usher in an innovative, provocative, and inclusive new chapter for Artists Repertory Theatre.” The search committee included: Pancho Savery, Jeanette Harrison, Melory Mirashrafi, Meg Schenk, Lava Alapai, Norma Dulin, Michael Szporluk, Michael Davidson, and Josie Seid; the search was led by McKenzie, supported by ALJP Principal Kim Davis. Over 100 candidates nationwide applied for the role, and the process incorporated feedback from a wide variety of board, staff, resident artists and other members of the ART community. 

About ALJP

ALJP Consulting is a black-owned, woman-owned, mission driven firm specializing in executive search, strategic planning, board coaching and development,facilitation, and equity, diversity and inclusion strategy for the arts and beyond. ALJP was founded in the Summer of 2019 to fill a need in the arts and culture field for consulting firms dedicated to creating an industry ecosystem that looks like the world in which we live. While reimagining the Arts and Culture Sector, we put inclusion and equity at the heart of our consulting practice. Current and recent clients include: Manhattan Class Company (MCC), The Field, Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC), New York Theatre Workshop, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, The Flea, Noor Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Penumbra Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Marin Theatre Company, The Broad Stage, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, Pivot Arts, Bronx Council on the Arts, Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Visual AIDS, and Trinity Repertory Company.