THE FLEA APPOINTS LAUREN BRITT-ELMORE AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO JOIN THE FLEA’S NEW SHARED LEADERSHIP MODEL AND CHAMPION THE FLEA’S MISSION AND STRATEGY TO INVEST IN AND SUPPORT EXPERIMENTAL ART BY BLACK, BROWN, AND QUEER ARTISTS.
New York, NY (November 13, 2023) The Flea has appointed Dr. Lauren Britt-Elmore as Executive Director to co-lead the Tribeca theater dedicated to the works of Black, brown, and queer artists. She will work alongside Flea Executive Artistic Director Niegel Smith and Board Co-Chairs Nona Hendryx & Tony Tramontin in shared leadership with staff and stakeholders including Resident Company Members on the Board.
The search was led by values-driven firm ALJP Consulting and included participation from all levels of the organization, including staff, consultants, artists, and funders.
Dr. Elmore is an arts management practitioner with more than 20 years experience leading artistic teams. Trained as a dramaturg, Dr. Elmore has worked as a manager and coalition builder, crafting policy, implementing strategic plans, and leading programs in leadership roles at New School for Drama, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and most recently as the Director of Academic Administration of the Theatre Program at Columbia University School of the Arts.
“Words cannot express how thrilled I am to join this amazing artistic institution at this exciting time. I was drawn to The Flea from the very beginning primarily because it is a rare example of an organization living its values. I am looking forward to helping provide the necessary support and resources so The Flea can change the face of American live performance.”
In 2021, The Flea was refounded with a new mission and vision supported by a new leadership model centering the core values of transparency and collaboration. This is exemplified by: the shift from a Board of donors to a working Board of stakeholders, which includes early career artists and resident company members, including our Key Resident Company, The Fled; staff is invited into all decision-making discussions, Board committees and enjoy full budget transparency; and lead artists integrated as co-producers of their work with full authority and buy-in on all elements of their productions.
“With a new Mission and now with Lauren Britt-Elmore, our New Executive Director, the Flea Staff and Board are energized and excited for the future. Welcome Lauren, we’re stronger together.” – Board Co-Chair Nona Hendryx
“Over the past two years, it’s been thrilling to see the resident companies in action and how the Flea has evolved into its current model. I am so thrilled to have Dr Lauren Britt-Elmore join the Flea after an expansive search and excited to see how her contributions will further develop the Flea’s mission!” – Founding Member of The Fled and Resident Company Board Member, Rebecca Aparicio
Since its refounding the Flea has invested over $450,000 in over 150 artists. These artists have been paid above industry standard and in 2023 reached the benchmark of 42% above union scale. Their season is marked by world premiere productions, an annual slate of Juneteenth Public Performance Commissions, a festival of experimental performances WERK!, support for Resident Companies, the commissioning of new plays, the throwing of an annual House Party and as a hub for dozens of theater, dance and performance companies presenting new works at the Tribeca Theater.
“Lauren brings the right stuff at just the right moment to The Flea leadership team. She is passionate about the art, unwavering about our values, and inspires everyone she meets with her ability to communicate a bold vision and create the conditions for great art to be developed and shared,” said Executive Artistic Director, Niegel Smith. “I’m looking forward to beginning our work together.”
“We are at a milestone moment here at The Flea, as we embrace and lift up Lauren! Her spirit to champion The Flea’s unique creativity and commitment to our artist community is so refreshing and we’re so incredibly lucky to have such a dynamic and aspiring leader like Lauren. Lauren’s spirit will allow us to push boundaries further in experimental art, be more confident in our artistic expertise and build our scaffolding, as she puts it, and our home welcomes her with support and gratitude.” Maimouna Camara, Associate General Manager
To view a photos of Dr. Lauren Britt-Elmore click here. Photo Credit: Jonathan Barbee
Dr. Lauren Britt-Elmore (Executive Director) has been fortunate to spend her entire career working in and with the theatre. Most recently, she has served as the Director of Academic Administration of the Theatre Program at the prestigious Columbia University School of the Arts since 2017. Prior to her tenure at Columbia, she worked in academic administration at the New School for Drama, helped produce the first online course from Harvard’s Education School, served as a Literary Associate at Helen Merrill, Ltd., and earned a distinguished Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship at Arena Stage. She has dramaturged work in various settings, including the Cherry Lane Theater (The View from Tall by Caitlin Montanye Parrish), and directed plays in New York and Boston by Kirsten Greenidge, Catherine Filloux, and Angela Tucker. She is currently researching the relationship between the Algonquin Round Table and the writers of the Harlem Renaissance during the early 20th century. Dr. Elmore is a graduate of Wesleyan University (BA with Honors, Theatre & African-American Studies), Columbia University School of the Arts (MFA, Dramaturgy), and Harvard Graduate School of Education (EdD, Higher Education).
Niegel Smith (Executive Artistic Director) is a Bessie Award winning theater director and performance artist. He is the Executive Artistic Director of NYC’s Obie Award winning theater, The Flea guiding the organization through its refounding as a hub for experimental art by Black, brown and queer artists. He is also a board member of A.R.T./New York and was a ringleader of Willing Participant, an artistic activist organization that whips up urgent poetic responses to crazy shit that happens.
His current directing projects include The Ritual of Breath Is the Rite to Resist, a multi-media opera and community ritual commissioned and produced by Hopkins Center for the Arts and Suzan-Lori Park’s Plays for The Plague Year produced by The Public Theater. His theater work has been produced at The Alley Theater, The Barbican, Classical Theatre of Harlem, The Flea, The Goodman Theatre, HERE Arts Center, Hip Hop Theatre Festival, The Invisible Dog, Luna Stage, The Melbourne Festival, Magic Theatre, Mixed Blood, the National Black Theatre, New York Fringe Festival, New York Live Arts, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, Playwrights Horizons, Pomegranate Arts, The Public Theater, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Summer Play Festival, and Under the Radar, and his participatory walks and performances have been produced by Abrons Arts Center, American Realness, The Brooklyn Museum, Dartmouth College, Elastic City, The Flea, The Invisible Dog, Jack, The New Museum, Prelude Festival, PS 122, the Van Alen Institute and Visual AIDS. He often collaborates with playwright/performer Taylor Mac.
Niegel most recently directed the wildly popular and critically-acclaimed jazz opera The Hang. For this work, he was nominated for a Drama League Award in best direction. He has also collaborated with some of the world’s most celebrated musicians including En Vogue and Jon Batiste at New York City’s Park Avenue Armory. Smith is co-director of the critically acclaimed ‘A 24-Decade History of Popular Music’, winner of the Kennedy Prize in Drama, Bessie Award, the Edwin Booth Award and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He associate directed the Tony Award winning musical FELA! – restaging that production in London, Lagos and its world tour, assistant directed the original Broadway and off-Broadway productions of Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change. He has worked on the artistic staffs of The Public Theater, Trinity Repertory Company and Providence Black Rep.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Smith has received residencies, grants and/or fellowships from Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the MAP Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Stage and Film, Sundance Theatre Lab, Theater Communications Group, Tucker Foundation, Van Lier Fund and VoxFest.
Nona Hendryx (Co-Chair of the Board)
Revolutionary art-rock, new-wave goddess Nona Hendryx is a celebrated vocalist, record producer, songwriter,musician, and author, Ambassador of Artistry in Music for Berklee College of Music. Hendryx’s legendary career spans six decades of sound and style evolution, tackling social issues, love, and politics. Longtime Nona Hendryx fans know her as one of the founding members of the “girl group,” Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles. In 1970, Patti, Sarah Dash, and Nona morphed into the groundbreaking group Labelle, delivering a No.1 worldwide hit with “Lady Marmalade” (Voulez Vous Coucher Avec Moi C’est Soir?) Hendryx emerged as the chief songwriter of socially-conscious and illuminating message songs. Nona’s solo career includes an impressive lineup of collaborators (George Clinton, Prince, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Bono), top ten hits, and a Grammy nomination for “Rock This House” with The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards on guitar.
ALJP Consulting is a black-owned, woman-owned, mission-driven firm specializing in executive search, strategic planning, board coaching and development, and facilitation. 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. We put inclusion and equity at the heart of our consulting practice. For more information, please visit aljpconsulting.com