Artswatch: Arena Stage’s New Director, Atlantic Festival Returns, Latest on Folger

Hana Sharif Follows Molly Smith at Arena Stage 

As successor to Molly Smith, who retired last summer after 25 years as Arena Stage artistic director, Arena’s board appointed Hana S. Sharif, artistic director since 2018 of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. With a B.A. from Spelman College, in her birthplace of Atlanta, and an M.F.A. from the University of Houston, in the city where she grew up, Sharif began her theater career at Hartford Stage. In 2014, she moved to Baltimore Center Stage as associate artistic director, launching the 99-seat Third Space and helping develop “Marley” (later titled “One Love”) by Kwame Kwei-Armah, among other projects.  

Atlantic Festival Returns to the Wharf, Sept. 28-29 

The Atlantic Festival, “addressing the most significant issues of our time with today’s boldest thinkers as we bring The Atlantic’s journalism to life onstage,” will return to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 28-29 at the Wharf, where the magazine — founded in Boston in 1857 as The Atlantic Monthly — is now headquartered. The list of more than 70 speakers includes Antony Blinken, Spike Lee, Jake Tapper and Kerry Washington. A festival pass is $200; mainstage programming can be live-streamed for free. Details are available at  

The Atlantic Festival will return to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 28-29 at the Wharf.

Heyward Picks Up Baltimore Symphony Baton 

On the last weekend of September — including a Sunday concert at Strathmore — Jonathon Heyward will begin his first season as Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director. Succeeding Marin Alsop, Heyward is only the second Black conductor of a major American orchestra (the first, composer William Grant Still, conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 1930s). A graduate of South Carolina’s Charleston County School of the Arts and the Boston Conservatory, he also studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music, was assistant conductor of The Hallé in Manchester and leads the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Herford, Germany.   

Jonathon Heyward. Courtesy BSO.

New Site, New Name: Capital Jewish Museum  

The Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum opened to the public on June 9, the same date the original Adas Israel building, attached to the new SmithGroup-designed museum facility, was dedicated in 1876 as the District’s first purpose-built synagogue. Having been moved a short distance three times, the small brick synagogue is now in its final home at 575 3rd St. NW, part of the huge Capitol Crossing mixed-used development. Executive Director Ivy L. Barsky, former CEO of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, joined the museum early in 2022. The exhibition “Notorious RBG” is on view through Nov. 30.  

The Lillian and Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum opened to the public on June 9.

National Geographic Starts to Build Base Camp 

After breaking ground last fall, work continues on the National Geographic Society’s $250-million project, designed by Hickok Cole, to transform its headquarters at 17th and M Streets NW into Base Camp: “a place like none other, where visitors will come to experience stunning imagery and photography, bold storytelling, and learn about the rich discoveries and expeditions of the past, with a watchful eye to the future and protecting our planet.” In June, UrbanTurf reported that plans submitted to the District included a proposal for a 160-room hotel on the upper floors. Base Camp is due to open in 2026.   

‘How Poor Are Thee That Have Not Patience!’ 

Closed since March of 2020, the Folger Shakespeare Library, adjacent to the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill, will not reopen on Nov. 17 as planned. A new reopening date, in 2024, will be announced later this year. Additional time is needed for the “configuration, testing and recalibration” phase of the Folger’s $80.5-million, KieranTimberlake-designed renovation, which has added 12,000 square-feet underground. The postponement of the library’s public reopening is not expected to affect the 2023-24 Folger Theatre season in the same building, set to begin on Oct. 24 with “The Winter’s Tale.”  

Closed since March of 2020, the Folger Shakespeare Library will not reopen on Nov. 17 as planned.




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