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ArtsEmerson is the professional presenting and producing organization of the Office of the Arts at Emerson College. Through our international programming and local community partnerships, we serve the City of Boston, the Emerson community (students, faculty and staff) and the global field of performance practice. Founded in 2010, the same year that the US Census confirmed Boston as a majority-minority city, we are building a cultural institution that embraces and reflects the changing demographics of our city. We operate from the core belief that the arts are for everyone.


In 2010, ArtsEmerson’s Founding Executive Director, Robert J. Orchard, identified gaps in the Boston cultural landscape and created an arts institution intentionally designed to fill that void and attract new audiences to Emerson’s downtown arts venues.  ArtsEmerson quickly established a reputation for putting great work from around the world on its stages—work that emanates from the language of theater, yet pushes the boundaries into dance, music, and opera.
ArtsEmerson’s first seasons focused on building a world-class cultural institution that achieved visibility and a leadership role in the city in short order. By December of 2013, WBUR critic Ed Siegel cited ArtsEmerson in his annual “Best of” round-up, saying: “In four short years, [they] have established ArtsEmerson as one of the most important cultural institutions in New England.” In June of 2015 Boston Magazine named ArtsEmerson the Best Theatre in Boston. With its artistic reputation firmly in place the organization’s efforts are fully turned toward building an audience for the work that reflects the diversity of our city’s demographics, and to establishing ArtsEmerson as an active civic partner in Boston.
In 2015 Orchard moved into the role of Creative Consultant. Currently ArtsEmerson is led by Co-Artistic Director David Dower, Co-Artistic Director P. Carl, and Executive Director David Howse. This shared leadership model reflects the organization’s values — that multiple voices are essential to leading a 21st century arts organization. 


To be a catalyst for creating a unified Boston. 


To foster civic transformation through the shared experience of art and public dialogue. 


  • The belief the arts belong to everyone. Every decision we make, every new programming choice and operational strategy, emerges from that conviction.
  • Effective and efficient stewardship of the resources under our control (facilities, expertise, money,) on behalf of Emerson College, the students, the artists, the community and the field.
  • Respect, integrity, civility and transparency in all our interactions (with each other, with our artists, with our audiences, with our students and with our clients).
  • Relationship building between the artists we are serving, the audiences who engage with our work and the Emerson community of students, faculty and staff.
  • Balance between our social conscience and our dedication to artistic excellence.
  • Diversity in all its forms—we seek to celebrate it and showcase it as integral to everything we do.
  • The City of Boston and our role in its creative and civic infrastructure.
  • Reciprocal collaborative relationships with each of our constituencies providing leadership where it’s necessary, mentoring when it is desired and mutual discipline and respect to ensure success on every level.