Ari Lennox and J. Cole at the bandshell on July 31 (BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival Photographers: Walik Goshorn, Antoine DeBrill and Valerie Magan)
Aug 18, 2021
Kristina Newman-Scott is stepping down as BRIC president
Newman-Scott is leaving after three years at the helm of the arts non-profit behind Celebrate Brooklyn!, BRIC has announced
Kristina Newman-Scott is stepping down as president of the non-profit arts organization BRIC, effective August 31, the organization has announced.
In a press release posted to their website, BRIC, best known for its flagship summer concert series, the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, announced that Newman-Scott would be leaving her post at the end of the month after a three-year tenure at the helm. The decision was hers, according to the organization, which has not announced a replacement for her. BRIC is also looking to fill a director of marketing role, according to a couple of internal sources there.
Newman-Scott could not be reached for comment and several requests for comment from BRIC board members have gone unanswered. A BRIC representative declined to elaborate beyond the press release.
“It was her decision,” one person familiar with the situation wrote in a text message on the condition of anonymity. “Tough run (Covid), and she led us through. New search committee formed.”
That sentiment does not appear universal, however: In another text to Brooklyn Magazine, a former BRIC staffer wrote: “To say Kristina struggled to run the organization is an understatement … It seems that the veneer wore thin.”
Newman-Scott was the first immigrant and woman of color to be named President of BRIC when she was appointed in July 2018. Her predecessor, Leslie Griesbach Schultz, guided BRIC into a spacious new home and expanded its programming over a 13-year run. Newman-Scott will become a consultant for BRIC at the end of her tenure, according to the release.
“Kristina was the right leader at the right time for BRIC. She is visionary in her focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and how that strengthens an organization, especially one as rooted in the community as BRIC,” said Michael Liburd, BRIC’s board chair, in the press release. Newman-Scott led BRIC through the dark early days of the pandemic and oversaw the transformation of the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival into a completely virtual festival in 2020.
BRIC quietly posted news of Newman-Scott’s departure on August 3, just days after the opening night of their 2021 festival on July 31st, when singer Ari Lennox’s performance at Prospect Park’s newly-rechristened Lena Horne Bandshell went viral after she brought out rapper J. Cole as a surprise guest.
In 2020, Newman-Scott was named as one of Observer NYC Arts Power 50 for the work that she did with BRIC.
“I could not be more proud of what we’ve achieved over the last three years, and especially over the last 16 months during a global pandemic,” said Newman-Scott in a statement. “Our team demonstrated a genuine spirit of collaboration and focused on centering the voices of artists to reach the people of Brooklyn and beyond. Our ability as an organization to move beyond fear and into possibility during this time will forever inspire me as I transition to my next chapter.”
After growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, Newman-Scott studied visual arts and worked in television before becoming a curator and arts administrator in Connecticut after moving there in 2005. She became the director of culture for Connecticut’s office of the arts in 2015 and then took her position at BRIC three years later.
“She helped create a much more unified and aligned BRIC, which helped us successfully weather the storm of the pandemic,” said Liburd. “She will be missed by the entire BRIC community.”
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