In this episode of Talks at GS, Kara Medoff Barnett discusses her leadership at American Ballet Theatre and her focus on advancing innovation and inclusion, navigating ABT through the pandemic and the future of the performing arts post-pandemic.
On diversity and uniqueness: “ABT’s secret sauce as America's national ballet company has been in our diversity and dynamism. This is a national company... And other national companies strive for exquisite sameness, and I think the thing that always attracted me and attracts many of our audiences and artists to ABT is that we elevate individuality and uniqueness. And that doesn't mean that we have always exemplified diversity in the ways that we aspire to in the future, but it does mean that this is a company that celebrates individual superpowers and individual narratives.”
On the impact of the coronavirus pandemic: “This has been a rapid evolution and rapid problem-solving, but we've had certain commitments and priorities and lenses for decision-making from the very beginning – from March, when we shut down our studios. We had just come back from a triumphant premiere on the west coast, and we landed in New York and, a few days later, we're sending everyone home. And we said, ‘Look, we're sending everyone home, but we're going to stay together.’ And that rallying cry of ABT as ‘alone but together’... our greatest asset is our people. We don't own a theater. We don't have a big endowment. We don't have a vast digital content library. We have some of the most extraordinary human beings... Our staff, our board... the people who make up this company are remarkable individuals with a shared purpose.”