The Open Society Foundations has named Rashida Bumbray as the inaugural director of Culture and Art. In this role, Bumbray will lead work to address the aesthetic, political, and capacity needs of arts leaders, individual artists, and cultural activists. She will also support sustainability for a global network of locally-led cultural organizations and initiatives that work at the intersection of culture, art, and social change.
“Rashida understands the role of culture and art for a robust and courageous civil society at a moment when rights and freedom of expression are under threat,” said Patrick Gaspard, President of the Open Society Foundations. “With her expertise in contemporary art and socially engaged art, she has the vision and creativity we need to steer this exciting new program.”
Since 2015, Bumbray has been senior program manager of Open Society’s Arts Exchange, an initiative created to support the integration of arts and culture into programmatic strategies across the Foundations’ network.
Selected for the role after a global search, Bumbray has previously served as a curator and administrator for seminal institutions during times of rapid growth, including the Studio Museum in Harlem (2001–2006), The Kitchen (2006–2012), Creative Time (2012–2014), and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts (2014–2015).
She holds a BA from Oberlin College and an MA in Africana Studies from New York University. In addition to being a leading arts professional, Bumbray is a renowned choreographer and performer whose practice builds on traditional African American vernacular and folk forms. In this capacity, she received a 2019 United States Artists Fellowship and is currently an inaugural Civic Practice Artist-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2018, she received A Blade of Grass’s Alchemist Award for Socially Engaged Art.