HOWARD SHERMAN is an arts administrator, advocate and writer. In February 2015, he was named director of the new Arts Integrity Initiative at the New School for Drama, focused on creative and academic freedom in the arts. He is concurrently the Senior Strategy Director and Interim Director of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts in New York, dedicated to creating opportunities for artists of color and artists with disabilities in theatre, film and television.
Since 2011, he has become an influential advocate for high school theatre, notably taking an active role in content challenges by school administrations in numerous communities, including both Waterbury CT and Trumbull CT, Plaistow NH, South Williamsport PA, Maiden NC and Tullahoma TN, and he writes extensively about intellectual and creative freedom in academic, community and professional theatre. He was named one of the “Top 40 Free Speech Defenders of 2014” by the National Coalition Against Censorship and he received the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund 2015 “Defender” Award for his work on artists rights and theatrical censorship.
He was executive director of the American Theatre Wing from 2003 to 2011. During that time, his varied responsibilities included serving as executive producer and occasional moderator of the television program “Working in the Theatre”; creating and hosting the audio program “Downstage Center”; incorporating SpringboardNYC, the Theatre Intern Group and The Jonathan Larson Grants into ATW’s programming; leading ATW’s utilization of the web and social media for distribution of and communication about its programs; conceiving the book “The Play That Changed My Life”; and serving on the Tony Awards Management and Administration Committees. In addition, he was instrumental in the development of ATW’s National Theatre Company Grants program, and secured the organization’s first-ever funding from The Shubert Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.
Immediately prior to joining ATW, he spent three years as Executive Director of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford CT, overseeing the Center’s educational and developmental programs, shepherding more than $1 million worth of physical plant upgrades, and re-branding The O’Neill through a coordinated communications initiative. Works developed during his tenure include August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, Lee Blessing’s Thief River and the musical Avenue Q. Sherman was Managing Director of Geva Theater in Rochester (1998-2000), where he completed a $6 million capital campaign and opened the company’s 135-seat Nextstage. He was the first General Manager of Goodspeed Musicals (1994-1998), working on 24 new and classic musicals, including the U.S. Premiere of Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s By Jeeves. As Public Relations Director of Hartford Stage (1985-1993), he represented 50 shows, from Mark Lamos’ productions of Hamlet and Peer Gynt with Richard Thomas to Marvin’s Room, Other People’s Money, and Our Country’s Good, the latter three prior to New York runs. He began his career in press positions with the Westport Country Playhouse and Manhattan Theatre Club.
Howard has taught and/or guest lectured at the Yale School of Drama, Princeton University, North Carolina School of the Arts, Emerson College, Brooklyn College, Hartt School of Music, SUNY Purchase and University of Connecticut; and was a corporation member of The Neighborhood Playhouse, on the National Board of Advisors of The Actors Fund; and a board member of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He served for several years as an on-site evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts.
He has moderated artist conversations for public audiences for more than 30 years, having begun by leading post-performance discussions with such noted figures as Athol Fugard and JoAnne Akalaitis at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. During his tenure at the American Theatre Wing, he was executive producer of the company’s long running television program “Working in the Theatre,” hosting 30 panel conversations among the more than 80 shows he produced, and as creator of the audio program “Downstage Center,” he interviewed 325 theatre luminaries in a seven-year span. More recently, he has moderated talks for, among others, BroadwayCon 2016, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Mark Twain House and Museum, Writers Guild of America East, 59 E 59 Theatres and The Broadway League.
As a speaker, he delivered the keynote at the 2014 Educational Theatre Association’s National Conference, the keynote at the 2015 KCACTF Region 2 festival, a public lecture on marketing the arts at Stockton State College in New Jersey, and has appeared on panels and led workshops at the KCACTF Region 1, 2 and 3 Festivals in 2016; the 2016 National Thespian Festival; 2015 Dramatists Guild National Conference; the 2015 Broadway Teachers Workshop; and at the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival, among others.
In addition to consulting for arts organizations on management and communications, he currently writes a weekly column on U.S. theatre for The Stage in London. He has contributed articles to American Theatre Magazine, National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal‘s “Speakeasy” blog, the Los Angeles Times‘ “Culture Monster” blog, The Guardian‘s “Guardian Culture Professionals” site, and HowlRound, the journal of the Center for Theatre Commons at Emerson College. Many of his blog essays from this site have been cross-posted to The Huffington Post.
Howard is a native of New Haven CT, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and resides in Manhattan.
Bio as of July 2016
Photos by Joan Marcus