February 4, 2019, Valencia, CA—Mark Murphy has announced his decision to leave REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater), the California Institute of the Arts’ contemporary performing arts and exhibition space located in The Walt Disney Concert Hall, at the end of the 2018/2019 season, in order to focus his attention on initiating new creative programs and productions in a variety of US and international cities. Murphy has led REDCAT for more than seventeen years, starting as its founding Executive Director in 2001, before overseeing the grand opening of the facility in 2003. Edgar Miramontes, Associate Director at REDCAT, will assume additional duties of interim leadership until a permanent appointment is made.
Murphy quickly established the interdisciplinary performance and multimedia arts center as one of Los Angeles’ most influential centers for contemporary and avant-garde work from around the globe, and an influential resource for local artists to develop new work. Now in the midst of its 16th season, REDCAT has become one of the world’s most respected laboratories for the development and presentation of contemporary performances and innovative cultural programs. Murphy’s official title is The Steven D. Lavine Executive Director of REDCAT, named in honor of the former president of CalArts.
“Very few performing arts programs have been as innovative as the one Mark Murphy created for REDCAT,” said Ravi Rajan, President of CalArts, “I cannot think of any other contemporary programs that have been as influential on its community as the one Mark created for us. CalArts, and all of LA, owe Mark a debt of gratitude for his vision. We look forward to toasting and paying tribute at REDCAT’s annual gala on March 16.”
During his tenure of overseeing the programming and management of REDCAT, Murphy has presented and often co-produced work by many leading pioneers of contemporary performance from throughout the US and 70 other countries, and fostered the development of hundreds of emerging artists. REDCAT has been a home for such groundbreaking performing artists or ensembles as André Gregory, Meredith Monk, Peter Sellars, Sardono Dance Theater (Indonesia), dumb type (Japan), Mikhail Baryshnikov with the Merce Cunningham Company, The Wooster Group, Faustin Linyekula (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Mariano Pensotti (Argentina), Christiane Jatahy (Brazil), Guillermo Calderon (Chile), Claudio Valdez-Kuri (Mexico), Lou Reed, Ronald K. Brown, Rennie Harris, Lemi Ponifasio (New Zealand), Gob Squad (UK/Germany), Teatro Linea de Sombra (Mexico), Bebe Miller, Ralph Lemon, and many many others. REDCAT has hosted more than 90 different artists or ensembles from Latin America, with most of them making their US Debut at the theater, or in several historic theaters REDCAT has utilized in downtown LA. He established the well-regarded New Original Works Festival, which has premiered more than 130 productions by Southern California artists, and the REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival. In 2018, he organized and served as lead artistic director for the groundbreaking Pacific Standard Time Festival: Live Art LA/LA, which featured more than 200 artists in 75 performances across the city, and he was executive producer and co-curator of two major international theater festivals (Radar LA 2011 and 2013). He has also collaborated with all of the schools at CalArts to develop a wide range of new multidisciplinary programs, and forged collaborative relationships with more than 100 community partner organizations, ranging from institutions like LA Opera, MOCA and Center Theatre Group to smaller organizations like Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), Plaza de la Raza and the Angel City Jazz Festival.
"It has been consistently thrilling to present and organize more than 150 events year-round for 16 seasons, and I’m very proud of our work, the team we’ve built and the audience and community that has made REDCAT an important home for innovation and experimentation,” Murphy said. “Now I am excited to pay close attention to specific creative projects and curatorial programs with artists and institutions in the US and abroad. I couldn't expand in this way, or take the time for the travel it requires, while also overseeing the non-stop operation and programming of REDCAT."
"The Board of Trustees is deeply appreciative of Mark’s exemplary service to REDCAT and CalArts," said Tim Disney, Chairman of the California Institute of the Arts. "His strong leadership and foresight have served CalArts well, and he has laid a solid foundation for continued growth and the support of artistic exploration in Los Angeles."
Under Murphy’s leadership, the Gallery at REDCAT has also had significant influence through highly regarded exhibitions initiated by Gallery curators and directors Eungie Joo (currently curator of contemporary art at SFMOMA), Clara Kim (currently a senior curator at The Tate Modern in London), and Ruth Estévez (now curator at Rose Art Museum).
REDCAT was created in the landmark Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003 and was the dream of then-president of CalArts Steven D. Lavine, who brought Murphy to Los Angeles to help complete the design and construction of REDCAT almost two years before opening. "Mark took a hope and a dream and built REDCAT into a more ambitious and influential institution than I would have imagined possible. With all the development downtown today, it is hard to remember what a radical departure REDCAT was in 2003. Before REDCAT it had been extraordinarily difficult for performing artists and audiences in Los Angeles to participate fully in national and international developments in the arts." said Lavine. "In the fifteen years since it opened, REDCAT has changed our expectations about what is possible in Los Angeles and helped stimulate the development of Los Angeles as one of the core creative capitals in the world."
Murphy is a former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Choreographer’s Fellowship panel, a founding board member of the National Performance Network, a long-term advisor to the National Dance Project, and has served as a member of the Advisory Board for the Japan Foundation's Performing Arts Program. Prior to his arrival at REDCAT, Murphy served as the Artistic Director of On the Boards, a contemporary performing arts center in Seattle, for fifteen years.
Murphy describes his approach to programming and management as "artist-centric." "I always felt that organizations should work in service to artists, rather than the other way around. The idea of collaborating with artists, rather than simply buying ‘spectacles or attractions’ is important to me," said Murphy. "Over the years, I think our audience, which changes considerably event to event, feels that their relationship to the programming is not only that of a consumer purchasing a product, but that they’re contributing to and becoming part of the creative process in some way, and joining a creative community."
The executive search firm Phillips Oppenheim has been retained to conduct a broad international search for Mr. Murphy’s replacement. "We are honored to be able to assist on this assignment to build on Mark’s founding vision at REDCAT," said Sarah James from Phillips Oppenheim. "We have long followed CalArts’ commitment to ‘incubating the new’ and this opportunity – at this institution, in this location, at this time – is important not just nationally, but internationally in ways that bely its physical size."