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Jenny Schlenzka. Photo: Angalis Field.
Jenny Schlenzka. Photo: Angalis Field.

Jenny Schlenzka to Leave New York’s Performance Space for Berlin’s Gropius Bau

Jenny Schlenzka, who since 2017 has served as executive artistic director of Performance Space New York, will depart the organization this summer to lead the Gropius Bau in her native Berlin. Schlenzka was the first woman to helm Performance Space, assuming her post there as the highly regarded venue, formerly known as PS122, reopened in its East Village home following extensive renovations. A replacement will be announced this fall.

“Jenny Schlenzka has been an invigorating leader at Performance Space New York,” said Roxane Gay, the organization’s board president. “She has enriched our organization with her impeccable taste, bold vision and willingness to evolve and respond to the needs of our vibrant community. Jenny is irreplaceable but we are thrilled for her and this new professional adventure on which she now embarks. In the coming months, we will begin the difficult but important work of finding a new executive director for Performance Space, knowing that the organzation is stronger than ever by virtue of Jenny’s incredible work."

During Schlenzka’s tenure, Performance Space saw its annual operating budget of grow from $1.7 million in 2017 to $2.6 million. She leaves the organization financially healthy and with a three-year strategic plan in place. Schlenzka shepherded the organization through the Covid-19 crisis, during which it, like theaters and museums around the world, was forced to shutter temporarily. The pandemic arrived just months after Schlenzka had announced a pathbreaking new program, conceived in partnership with choreographer Sarah Michelson, that would turn over management of the space to artists for a year.

“So much of the work we’ve done in the past six years at Performance Space has been about rethinking power structures in our artistic institutions and creating an ethos of openness to change,” said Schlenzka. “This was, in part, like self-imposing a term limit: organizations stay vital with fresh approaches and visions. My hope is that, in these years, we’ve built a stronger institution with deeper ties to its artists and communities, with a renewed and reimagined identity that has bolstered its capacity to nurture the future of performance. It’s been an honor working with a staff and board who believe in collaborative, transformative experimentalism, not just in the art we program, but in our approach to every facet of the organization—and it’s exhilarating to think about what they’ll be able to accomplish with all the ideas a new leader brings to the table.”