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Kenneth Foster

Director, Arts Leadership at USC

University of Southern California

Kenneth Foster is Professor of Practice in the Thornton School of Music and Director of Arts Leadership at the University of Southern California. Before joining the faculty of USC, he was executive director of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), a contemporary film, visual and performing arts center, for ten years. The organization thrived under his leadership, benefitting from his dedication to nurturing long-term relationships with artists, growing YBCA’s audience and establishing the Center as an international leader in the contemporary arts.

Foster has more than 30 years of experience as an arts administrator, curator, educator, and performing arts presenter at Millikin University, Penn State University and the University of Arizona in addition to YBCA. He has served as a board member for national arts service organizations such as the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Dance USA, and Chamber Music America. He is a Founding Member of the Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium. He has developed an extensive national and international consulting practice with a variety of arts organizations, specializing in leadership development and innovative organizational design and planning for the 21st century. His methodology is grounded in resilience thinking, environmentalism and the artistic process.

His first book, "Performing Arts Presenting: From Theory to Practice," was published by APAP in 2006. His commissioned article, "Thriving in an Uncertain World; Arts Presenting, Change and the New Realities" was published in 2010 and widely circulated throughout the performing arts field. His second book, "Arts Leadership; Creating Sustainable Arts Organizations," was published by Routledge Press of London, England in May 2018.

In 2007, Foster received the Fan Taylor Award for Distinguished Service from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. The award honors individuals whose outstanding service, creative thinking, and leadership have had a significant impact on the profession of performing arts presenting. He lives in Pasadena, California with his partner, historian Nayan Shah.

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