(PRINCETON, NJ) -- Following the previously announced decision by Bill Lockwood to step down from the role of Special Programming Director earlier this year, McCarter welcomes Paula Abreu who will begin to work with the theater’s Artistic team this summer, joining the company full-time in September 2022.
As a key member of the Artistic staff, Abreu will oversee the lineup of Presented works annually, as well as strengthen connections across departments and relationships with Princeton University, neighboring academic and arts institutions, and regional communities.
McCarter’s ability to attract leading artists from the classical world to the avant-garde has been made possible through the cultivation of meaningful, lasting relationships and a keen eye for talent by William W. Lockwood, who led a tenure of nearly 60 years at the helm of the organization’s Presented work. Abreu assumes her new role in the Fall of 2022; she will augment the recently announced 22/23 Presented programming slate, with new artists announced on a rolling basis. Lockwood will serve as a consultant through June 2023.
Abreu joins McCarter having spent over a decade at New York’s iconic SummerStage and Charlie Parker Jazz Festivals, programming a wide range of forward-thinking and international acts. She brings 15 years of experience in scouting and presenting established and burgeoning talent from across the globe. Prior to SummerStage, Abreu worked at the Red Hot Organization and Lincoln Center.
“It is reassuring to know that the performers who consider McCarter home will be in expert hands with Paula Abreu - she is an inspired choice. It is wonderful to think about the new talent and energy she will bring to our stages, cultivating the next generation of artists and audiences,” said Bill Lockwood.
Sharing the spotlight of the organization’s produced plays and musicals, McCarter’s Presented series has been celebrated for offering an innovative mix of over 40 events each season - a slate of world class headliners and cultural performances across music, dance, spoken word, comedy and family programming. The programming has established McCarter as one of the country’s leading cultural destinations with performers including: Yo-Yo Ma, Andy Borowitz, Rhiannon Giddens, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, David Sedaris, Lang Lang, The Moth, the Mark Morris Dance, Audra McDonald, Bill Murray, J’Nai Bridges, Leslie Odom Jr, Rosanne Cash, Shawn Colvin, Valerie June, the band Lake Street Dive, Gregory Porter, Keb Mo, and many other luminaries.
Abreu will work closely with Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen and the Artistic team, collaborating on season planning - specifically supporting McCarter’s new vision of bringing its Presented series and Produced Theater series in greater alignment - operating more holistically, under “one performing arts umbrella.”
“I can’t wait to join the Artistic team, bringing my passion for international artists and my approach to programming and discovery of new talent to the conversation. I am eager to expand McCarter’s roster of high-profile headliners, and invite audiences of all ages to discover and engage with a diverse range of performers across music, dance and spoken word,” said Abreu. “I am honored to build upon the outstanding roster of world-class artists that Bill Lockwood has curated and nurtured for nearly 60 years! His relationships have distinguished McCarter and Princeton as a national cultural treasure.”
Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen said “It is thrilling to have Paula’s unique voice join the conversation as we expand audience reach and explore ways that our Presented events and Theater productions can intentionally complement each other moving forward, and enhance our University and community partnerships. I am so grateful for the time, rigor and passion shown by our robust, dedicated Search Committee who have helped pave the way for this significant next chapter.”
McCarter’s Search Committee worked with Isaacson Miller, one of the country's premier executive search firms, to search for its new Director of Special Programming, beginning in the Fall of 2021. Candidate interviews and conversations were conducted with a diverse group of core McCarter staff, Board members and Princeton University partners - committed to guiding equity, diversity, and inclusion work within McCarter, expanding audiences, and deepening McCarter’s relationship with Princeton University and surrounding community partners.
“I’m thrilled to add my voice to McCarter, to be a part of an organization that has had an incontestable impact on the cultural fabric of New Jersey, and that demonstrates an ongoing commitment to equal opportunity in the arts.
I am looking forward to getting to know the surrounding communities, and to exploring collaborative opportunities with the Princeton University campus, area Universities, and beyond. After 12 years in NYC’s presenting arts field, I’m thrilled to build upon McCarter's incredible legacy and forge new connections regionally, nationally and globally,” added Abreu.
An independent not-for-profit performing arts center located between New York City and Philadelphia – and on the campus of Princeton University – McCarter is a multi-disciplinary creative and intellectual hub offering theater, music, dance, spoken word, and educational programs for all ages that inspires conversations, connections and collaborations in our communities. We lead with our values of justice and joy, and we seek beauty in belonging. Celebrated for developing new work and winner of the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, world premieres include Christopher Durang's Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike (Tony, Best Play), Tarell Alvin McCraney's The Brother/Sister Plays, Emily Mann's Having Our Say. Renowned artists who have appeared at McCarter include: Alvin Ailey, Yo-Yo Ma, Audra McDonald, David Sedaris, The Moth, Terence Blanchard, Rosanne Cash, Lake Street Dive, Shawn Colvin, and more. McCarter connects with the community year-round with digital programming, on-site classes and in-school residencies. McCarter and Princeton University share a long history of unique partnerships and creative collaborations.
Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Paula Abreu has built a formidable reputation in New York as a live event curator and culture pollinator. Since 2012, Abreu has produced dozens of artists' US premieres (including Emicida, Dino D’Santiago, and Gaby Amarantos) as part of a career responsible for the staging of over 1500+ performances, cumulatively attended by nearly a million audience members. She brings a decade of experience with multiple major non-profit NYC institutions, including the Red Hot Organization, Lincoln Center, and the SummerStage and Charlie Parker Jazz Festivals. Abreu’s work joyfully embraces creative diversity and offers a nuanced reimagining of the role of arts presenter. In 2019, she spearheaded SummerStage’s gender parity pledge, making the festival one of the first in the Americas to consistently present a 50-50 balance of male and female performers. A respected and frequently sought-after moderator for panels and engagements, Abreu has acted as an artistic juror, speaker, or mentor at conferences around the world, including South by Southwest (USA), Asia Pacific Music Meeting (Korea), Moshito Music Conference (South Africa), Atlantic Music Expo (Cape Verde), Mundial Montréal (Canada), Sonidos Latinos (Spain), Bogotá Music Market (Colombia), and MusiConnect (France). She is a 2022 Panelist for the NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theater; a 2021 American Express Converge Social Justice Leadership Academy Fellow;a SIM São Paulo Consulting Committee Member since 2019; and a 2018 WOMEX Samurai. Abreu holds a BS in Production Engineering from PUC-Rio and an MA in Performing Arts Administration from NYU. Among her most proud achievements are presenting the late Brazilian samba legend Elza Soares following a 30-year US performance hiatus; curating a community concert with the French Chilean Rapper/Activist Ana Tijoux; a debut collaboration between Afrobeat icon Seun Kuti and jazz-funk pioneer Roy Ayers, and the birth of her daughter Julia, who joined the Abreu family in 2020.