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Chiwoniso Kaitano. Photo: Julie Bridgham.
Chiwoniso Kaitano. Photo: Julie Bridgham.

Chiwoniso Kaitano to Lead MacDowell Artist Residency Program

MacDowell, one of the most prestigious and oldest artist residency programs in the United States, on February 24 announced the appointment of Chiwoniso Kaitano as its next executive director. The Zimbabwe-born Kaitano was previously the executive director of Girl Be Heard, a nongovernmental organization that advocates for social change through theater and the performing arts. She will arrive to the Peterborough, New Hampshire, residency in mid-March, taking over from interim director Philip Himberg. David Macy will remain as resident director.

Kaitano was selected following a wide-ranging search. “Chi’s expertise, energetic and collaborative methods of engagement, and inspiring leadership qualities proved irresistible,” said MacDowell board chair Neil Painter in a statement.

“This change in MacDowell’s leadership follows an intense period of inquiry and innovation throughout the pandemic and recent social justice movements,” said MacDowell board president Andrew M. Senchak. Senchak pointed to MacDowell’s decision to drop the word “Colony” from its name in the wake of the 2020 murder by police of George Floyd as the organization’s board and staff worked to “examine our values and our governance, to strengthen and democratize our policies, procedures, and program.”

“I look forward to working with the board and staff to sustain and grow funding and to build upon the extraordinary vision for artist support that Edward and Marian MacDowell articulated when they welcomed the first artists-in-residence,” said Kaitano. “Imagining and joyfully meeting the ever-evolving needs of contemporary artists is how MacDowell can and will continue to be a pioneering champion for the value of the arts in our society.”

MacDowell was founded in 1907 by composer Edward MacDowell and musician and philanthropist Marian MacDowell. The residency has hosted more than 8,800 fellows across seven disciplines: writing, architecture, composition, film, theater, visual art, and interdisciplinary art.