Wexner Center names new director of performing arts

Thu, Mar 30, 2017

Lane Czaplinski will assume the position of director of performing arts at the Wexner Center for the Arts, effective June 1. Czaplinski will succeed Charles Helm, the Wex’s current performing arts director, who will retire June 30 after 26 extraordinary years with the center.

Czaplinski comes to the Wex from Seattle, where he’s spent the past 14 years as artistic director of On the Boards, a contemporary performing arts center. Under his leadership, the organization has commissioned and produced over 80 new multidisciplinary performance works and nurtured regional artists to make new works that have garnered national funding and touring opportunities. His efforts have won Czaplinski several awards, including a Genius Award from Seattle’s The Stranger, and led the New York Times to declare On the Boards “one of America’s best theaters for contemporary performance.”

Czaplinski has worked with many artists familiar to Wex audiences during his tenure, including The Wooster Group, Bill T. Jones, Young Jean Lee, Vivarium Studio’s Philippe Quesne, Laurie Anderson, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Sankai Juku, Bruno Beltrão, Toshiki Okada of chelfitsch, Romeo Castellucci, John Jasperse, and Mark Morris. In addition to his accomplishments as artistic director, Czaplinski has participated in panels and juries for organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital, Pew Charitable Trusts, and National Performance Network.

One of Czaplinski’s signature initiatives, OntheBoards.tv, has expanded the audience for On the Board’s programming through HD-quality performance films, attracting an international subscriber base of students and arts enthusiasts. He has also pursued a wealth of organizational partnerships on a local and national level, from the Seattle Art Museum and Pacific Northwest Ballet to PS122, BAM, the Walker Art Center, and the Wexner Center.

Wex Director Sherri Geldin notes, “I was elated by the caliber of candidates who expressed interest in this position, surely a testament to the center’s stature and impact on the field, as well as to Chuck Helm’s outstanding tenure here. In Lane Czaplinski, we’ve found a bold curatorial thinker, a supremely agile producer and presenter, and a highly accomplished arts leader who embraces the ever more urgent place of contemporary artistic expression, cultural diversity, and open discourse in an increasingly complex world.”

“I’ve always known that it would require a very special opportunity to pull me away from Seattle,” says Czaplinski. “As an interdisciplinary laboratory, the Wexner Center is perfectly positioned to redefine the field of performance by reconsidering which artists are included in the canon of contemporary art, who gets to curate and contextualize them, and how the work of these artists is supported, produced, distributed, and ultimately experienced.”

During his tenure, Helm built an outstanding reputation for the Wexner Center’s performing arts programming across the fields of theater, music, and dance. He organized numerous artist residencies and commissions that led to the creation of ambitious work and extensive tours for local, national, and international performing artists. Helm established in-depth working relationships with faculty and students at The Ohio State University, as well as with peer arts institutions, while forging an avid and loyal constituency for Wex programming. 

Lane Czaplinski photo by Chase Jarvis

(Lane Czaplinski photo by Chase Jarvis. Hi-res version available on request)