University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Alison Friedman named executive and artistic director for Carolina Performing Arts

After a competitive international search, we are pleased to announce that Alison Friedman has been named executive and artistic director for Carolina Performing Arts. Friedman, an internationally recognized performing arts executive and producer, will join Carolina in October to lead CPA in its 17th season.

Friedman is currently the artistic director for performing arts for the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong, one of the world’s largest arts and cultural developments, and has worked with renowned artists across Asia, Europe, Australia, South America and the United States. Her extensive global experience aligns perfectly with CPA’s mission to spark curiosity and inspire its community to engage more fully with the world.

Alison will direct the organizational framework for the arts at Carolina, working with both academic and non-academic units to identify new opportunities for students, faculty, staff and community members to engage with and experience the arts. She will build on the success of CPA by fostering new partnerships with arts and higher education institutions across the globe and staging performances that appeal to diverse audiences. Alison will continue the popular Creative Futures program at CPA, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which brings in artists to work with faculty and students in community-based research and will help lead Arts Everywhere, a campus-wide initiative to make the arts a fundamental part of the University’s culture and daily life.

In her current role, Alison leads the dance, theater, music and Chinese opera (xiqu) teams at Xiqu Centre and Freespace, the first two performing arts venues to open in West Kowloon Cultural District. She also oversees program planning for Xiqu Centre and Freespace and future venues being built in the district, including performances, workshops and outreach events. As acting executive director, Alison led all aspects of production including budgeting, fundraising, administration and human resources, in addition to her regular duties. Her accomplishments include launching an annual indoor-outdoor jazz festival that reached tens of thousands in its inaugural two years, developing an intergenerational program designed for Hong Kong’s underserved elderly population and their families and caregivers and spearheading Hong Kong’s first digital programming in response to COVID-19 theater closures in January 2020.

Prior to her work in West Kowloon, Alison was founder and executive and creative director of Ping Pong Productions, a pioneering non-profit performing arts exchange organization based in Beijing that presented more than 250 performance and outreach events annually across five continents. She also has completed an arts management fellowship program at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Alison’s professional experience in performing arts includes leadership roles with Oscar and Grammy-winner Tan Dun’s company Parnassus Productions and the Beijing Modern Dance Company. A former Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Alison graduated magna cum laude from Brown University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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