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The Folger Library

Public's Karen Ann Daniels Named
Folger Theatre's Artistic Director

Karen Ann Daniels, director of the Mobile Unit at The Public Theater in New York City, has been named the Folger Shakespeare Library's director of programming and artistic director of Folger Theatre following a national search.

Daniels will lead the vision and strategy for cultural programming across the institution, including theater performances, concerts, poetry readings, talks, screenings, and other humanities programs inspired by the Folger collection.

Daniels begins as the Folger's director of programming and Folger Theatre's artistic director in October 2021. She succeeds Janet Alexander Griffin who retired in spring 2021.

"I believe the humanities and arts, particularly theater, are essential to evolve our ideological, emotional, and human connection, especially now," Daniels said in a Folger Library press release. "Ensuring these resources are available to ALL of DC is vital! I am so proud to join the Folger as it is uniquely positioned to fill that need."

Karen Ann Daniels, the Folger Library's new director of programming and artistic director of the Folger Theatre, has had vast experience in theater outreach programs with The Public Theater in New York and The Old Globe in San Diego. Photo by Garlia Cornelia Jones

As director of The Public Theater's Mobile Unit, Daniels has brought theater and the arts to community centers and spaces around New York City. She is currently overseeing the Mobile Unit's Summer of Joy, a free, four-week tour to public plazas in all five boroughs from July 31 through August 29 in partnership with the National Black Theatre, New York City's Department of Transportation, and the People's Bus (a project of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission). She has also launched new programs such as Mobile Unit in Corrections: Hip-Hop vs Shakespeare, which brings the tools of theater to incarcerated communities.

"I'm delighted that Karen Ann Daniels is bringing her talents and experience to the Folger," Folger Director Michael Witmore said in the press release. "She will bring her own deeply inclusive vision of Shakespeare to the work of Folger Programs, connecting more deeply with DC communities and combining our public offerings—performance, music, poetry, humanities conversations, exhibitions—in new and exciting ways that build on the rich history of Folger public programs."

In her prior role as the associate director of The Old Globe's arts engagement department in San Diego, California, she managed community partnerships and created, piloted, and implemented cornerstone programs such as Globe for All, coLAB (devising plays with and for community), Community Voices (community as playwright), and Reflecting Shakespeare (Shakespeare in corrections).

Daniels, a native San Diego, joined The Old Globe in 2013, after working in the technology sector and as a teaching artist and director with Studio East's ArtsReach! Program in Seattle, Washington. In 2019, her musical The Ruby in Us premiered as part of The Old Globe coLAB project, which she co-created with the Fourth District Seniors Resource Center in San Diego.

An accomplished actor, director, playwright, vocalist, and musician, Daniels most recently worked as a visiting artist and co-devised a digital musical with theater students from St. Mary's College in Moraga, California. Gather 'round, which she served as composer, lyricist, and collaborating playwright, premiered online in April 2021.

Daniels served as chair of the City of Chula Vista's Cultural Arts Commission, held a seat on the Leadership of the New California Arts Fund Leadership committee, and was co-chair of the Learning Committee, representing the future of arts engagement for a cross-section of California arts organizations through The James Irvine Foundation. She is also a co-producer and facilitator for the Shakespeare in Prisons Network and biannual Shakespeare in Prisons Conference, which was part of the Folger Institute's 2020–2021 scholarly programs. Most recently, she's been selected as a 2021 Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity.

She holds a bachelor of arts in art history from UCLA, a master or fine arts in musical theater from San Diego State University, and a certificate in Shakespeare from the British American Drama Academy.

August 19, 2021

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