Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration), the nation’s first community-economic development corporation, today announced it has selected Shadawn Smith as its next Executive Vice President for Arts & Culture and Executive Director of The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie). In this role, Smith will oversee all arts and cultural initiatives and activities on Restoration’s campus as well as helming the iconic Billie Holiday Theatre, which President Biden recently awarded the National Medal of the Arts.
Smith has spent the majority of her 20-year career in government affairs roles that touch upon her love for arts and culture, gravitating towards work that intersects with community, arts, and economic development. She has dedicated her life to service in uplifting the African diasporic communities in NYC. Prior to joining Restoration, Shadawn held senior roles at NYC & Company, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the NYC Council, and the NYC Department of City Planning.
“Anchored by the Billie Holiday Theatre, Restoration’s cultural initiatives function as an important introduction to the world of arts for local community members, delivering world-class performances and exhibitions right in the heart of Bed-Stuy. As we scale our offerings into Brooklyn’s premier performing and cultural arts center, I am eager to further deepen our ties to the community and to uplift the nation’s next generation of Black talent,” said Ms. Smith.
As Executive Vice President for Arts & Culture, Smith will oversee the day-to-day administrative and operational management of all arts activities on Restoration Campus; and work in partnership with senior leadership to create and execute a comprehensive cultural plan that advances the work of the institution and leads it through its next chapter of growth. Smith also will oversee The Billie Holiday Theatre’s programs, including Youth Arts Academy, Skylight Gallery, and the Black Arts Institute.
Smith will play a crucial role in advancing Restoration’s plans to reimagine its longtime Fulton Street headquarters into Restoration Innovation Campus. The 800,000-square-foot mixed-use hub will center a completely updated Billie Holiday Theatre with upwards of 70,000 square feet of studio, educational and programmatic space for the arts. With Innovation Campus, Restoration plans to build the most comprehensive, visionary space for African American artists, audiences, and students in the country.
“Shadawn is a talented cultural leader and experienced community organizer with the requisite skills to usher in the next chapter of Restoration’s cultural offerings,” said Blondel Pinnock, President & CEO of Restoration. “A proven bridge-builder, Shadawn’s breadth of experience engaging with communities across New York City will ensure that we continue to deliver the thought-provoking and culturally representative experiences our community wants to see. I look forward to working closely with Shadawn to deliver the cultural resources Central Brooklyn deserves.”
Smith will officially assume her new role on June 1, 2023. Soon after, she will kick off a listening tour to better understand what the Central Brooklyn arts community would like to see in Restoration’s cultural programming. In the coming months, Restoration will unveil details of its cultural plan and opportunities the community can expect to see when the Innovation Campus is completed.
Smith brings over 20 years of experience fostering inclusion in cultural and political spaces underrepresented by Black and brown communities, including senior roles at major establishments like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and NYC Department of City Planning.