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Executives of BAM
David Binder, Artistic Director 

David Binder joined BAM as artistic director in January 2019, succeeding Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo. As artistic director—a new title which signals BAM’s plan to unite its curatorial streams—Binder will lead programming of live performances, cinema programs, education and humanities programs, visual art events, digital projects, and artistic partnerships. Binder’s artistic purview will extend to new BAM spaces currently under construction, the BAM Karen and BAM Strong, providing the institution with a broader curatorial landscape.

Binder is a Tony Award-winning producer whose credits include Broadway, off-Broadway, and festivals. 

He was the 2018 Guest Artistic Director of LIFT, the London International Festival of Theatre, featuring artists from around the world including Anna Deavere Smith, Back to Back, Faustin Linyekula, National Theatre of Korea, Anu, Taylor Mac, and Duke Riley’s Fly by Night.  

In New York, Binder produced the High Line Festival, curated by David Bowie. The festival featured performances by Arcade Fire, Laurie Anderson, Meow Meow, and, in his American stand-up comedy debut, Ricky Gervais. He also produced the Dutch New Island Festival on New York’s Governors Island, including 10 days of site-specific performance, music, theater, and dance from the Netherlands, with artists such as Anouk van Dijk, Armin van Buuren, and Ivo van Hove.

On Broadway, Binder produced Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which won four Tony Awards including Best Revival, and wrapped up a national tour at the Kennedy Center in 2017. He is the original producer of Hedwig, having mounted the production in 1997. Binder produced the record-breaking production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd—which was the first Broadway show to be filmed by NT Live—and a Tony Award-winning revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad, and Audra McDonald. Other credits include Moisés Kaufman’s 33 Variations starring Jane Fonda on Broadway and subsequently in Los Angeles with Center Theatre Group; De La Guarda, and  Fuerza Bruta. Most recently, Binder produced Network, starring Bryan Cranston, and the upcoming production of Burn This, with Adam Driver and Kerri Russell.

At the Sydney Opera House, Binder produced This Is Our Youth with Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin. He has co-produced five shows with the Donmar Warehouse, including Frost/Nixon and Mary Stuart on Broadway, Lobby HeroA Voyage Round My Father with Derek Jacobi, and Guys and Dolls with Ewan McGregor in the West End.  

In addition to the Tony Award for Hedwig, Binder has received four Tony nominations, an Emmy nomination, and a Golden Globe nomination. He has been honored by Performance Space 122 and is the recipient of the Robert Whitehead Award for Outstanding Achievement in Commercial Theatrical Producing. Binder is originally from Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley. He has been a teaching fellow at Princeton University and was on the faculty at the Yale School of Drama for six years. He has spoken about festivals, audience development, and creativity at gatherings across Europe and the US. David Binder’s TED talk, The Arts Festival Revolution, has been seen online by more than a half million people and was chosen by The Guardian as one of the best talks about theater on the web.

Katy Clark, President 

2015—2021

Katy Clark served as BAM’s president from 2015–2021. Prior to joining BAM, Clark was president and executive director of Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Before she began her career in arts management, Clark was a violinist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London. She is currently Executive Director of the Emily Davie and Joseph S. Kornfeld Foundation

Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer, BAM
Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer, BAM  

1999—2018

Joseph V. Melillo, executive producer since 1999, is responsible for the artistic direction of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). During his tenure, BAM has enjoyed increases in both programming and audience attendance in its Harvey Lichtenstein Theater, Howard Gilman Opera House, Rose Cinemas, and BAMcafé. Prior to his current position, Melillo served as BAM’s producing director, following a six-year tenure as founding director of the Next Wave Festival.

Over the years, Melillo has fostered the work of emerging and established artists and forged dynamic artistic partnerships. He has furthered the global reach of BAM’s mission through projects like The Bridge Project—a three-year series of international theater engagements featuring a trans-Atlantic company of actors directed by Sam Mendes and produced by BAM, The Old Vic, and Neal Street—and most recently DanceMotion USAsm, a cultural diplomacy program in partnership with the US Department of State that shares the rich dance culture of The United States with international audiences through performance and cultural exchange. In 2012, BAM expanded its campus to include the 40,000-square-foot, seven-story BAM Richard B. Fisher Building, named in honor of longtime friend and BAM Endowment Trust Chairman Richard B. Fisher (1936—2004). The BAM Fisher features an intimate and flexible new performance space, adding a third stage for BAM’s world-renowned Next Wave Festival.

Melillo was recognized by the French government as a Chevalier (1999) and an Officier (2004) de L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. In 2004, he was awarded an honorary OBE for his outstanding commitment to British performing arts in America. Melillo was appointed Knight of the Royal Order of the Polar Star in 2007, in recognition of his role in solidifying ties between the performing arts communities of Sweden and the United States, and in 2012 he was named cultural ambassador for Taiwan in recognition of his efforts to bring the arts of Taiwan to the US. In May of 2012, Melillo was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY, and the Guadium Award from the Breukelein Institute. He was awarded the title of Knight of the National Order of Québec in 2016. Melillo is also on the US Nominating Committee for the Praemium Imperiale, a global arts prize awarded annually by the Japan Art Association.

Melillo has served on the faculty of the Brooklyn College Graduate Program in Arts Management and on the boards of directors for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and En Garde Arts. He was a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts Dance Program and the New York State Council on the Arts, and served as Multidisciplinary Panel Chair of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts’ 2003 and 2007 Awards. Melillo is a lecturer at colleges and universities nationally and internationally. He currently serves as a member of the International Arts Advisory Committee for the Wexner Prize (Wexner Center for the Arts). Melillo earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and theater at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut and a Masters of Fine Arts in speech and drama at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He is currently in his 32nd year at BAM.

Karen Brooks Hopkins, President, BAM 

1999—2015

Karen Brooks Hopkins served as president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) from 1999—2015, and had worked at the institution since 1979. As president, Hopkins oversaw BAM's 230 full-time employees and facilities, including the 2100-seat Howard Gilman Opera House and 833-seat BAM Harvey Theater, the four-theater BAM Rose Cinemas, the Lepercq Space including BAMcafé, and the BAM Fisher with its 250-seat flexible Fishman Space.

In May 2004, Hopkins concluded a two-year term as the chair of the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), comprising 33 prominent New York City cultural institutions. In this capacity, she also served as a member of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission and is currently a member of the Boards of NYC & Company, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and the Global Cultural Districts Network. Hopkins is an active member of the Performing Arts Center Consortium, a national association of performing arts centers, and served as its chair from 1994 to 1996. She was also a participant on the Advisory Committee of the Salzburg Seminar Project of Critical Issues for the Classical Performing Arts from 2000—02 and a fellow of the Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Center for Business Innovation from 2001—02. In 2005, Hopkins received the Encore Award in Arts Management Excellence from the Arts & Business Council of New York, and chaired the Hospitality and Tourism cluster of the Initiative for a Competitive Brooklyn. In 2006, she was elected by the New York State Legislature to the Board of Regents for a four-year term.

In the spring of 1995, Hopkins served as executive producer of the Bergman Festival, which celebrated the life and work of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. Its success earned her a medal from the Royal Dramatic Theater of Sweden—the first time the honor was awarded to anyone outside of Sweden. Additionally, in recognition of her work on behalf of the Norwegian National Ballet, Norway awarded her its King Olav Medal. In November 2006, Hopkins was awarded the honor of Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic for her work supporting the French arts in the United States. In 2007, Crain’s named her one of the “100 Most Influential Women in New York City Business.” That year, she was appointed Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, in recognition of her role in solidifying ties between the performing arts communities of Sweden and the US. In May of 2012, Hopkins was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from St. Francis College, Brooklyn. She was designated a “Woman of Achievement” by Women in Development in 2013 and named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” by Crain’s, which also named her to its Hall of Fame in 2014. On behalf of BAM, she visited the White House in 2014 to receive the National Medal of the Arts from President Barack Obama.

Hopkins was an adjunct professor for the Brooklyn College Program for Arts Administration for four years. Her widely read book, Successful Fundraising for Arts & Cultural Organizations, is currently available in a revised second edition through Greenwood Publishing. A graduate of the University of Maryland, she received her MFA from George Washington University in Washington, DC. Hopkins resides in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Harvey Lichtenstein, President and Executive Producer,  

1967—99

Harvey Lichtenstein (1929 —2017) directed the Brooklyn Academy of Music from 1967 to 1999 and is credited with resurrecting the institution and making it a world-class arts organization. A Brooklyn native, he attended Brooklyn Technical High School and Brooklyn College, and became a dancer, studying and performing with a number of modern dance greats, including Pearl Lang, Martha Graham, and Sophie Maslow. By the 1960s, he’d become an arts administrator, and held management positions at both New York City Ballet and New York City Opera before becoming director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

When Lichtenstein arrived in 1967, the neighborhood surrounding the Academy had become seriously economically depressed, and the theater itself was at risk financially. Lichtenstein’s tack to revitalize the Academy, soon rebranded with the acronym BAM, was to present adventurous programming that couldn’t be seen elsewhere. Soon BAM had the reputation as a showcase for cutting-edge contemporary performance, particularly in dance, but also in drama and music. In 1983 he established the Next Wave Festival, and the long list of artists who came to perform on BAM’s stages under Lichtenstein’s purview reads like a Who’s Who of contemporary performance. It includes Laurie Anderson, Pina Bausch, Peter Brook, Merce Cunningham, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Jerzy Grotowski, Mark Morris, Steve Reich, Twyla Tharp, and Robert Wilson. Iconic works performed during his 32-year tenure include Satyagraha by Philip Glass; Einstein on the Beach, a collaboration by Robert Wilson/Philip Glass/Lucinda Child; and Peter Brooks’ The Mahabharata. Lichtenstein pulled the institution from near financial ruin into a dynamic period of renovation and expansion, which included the acquisition of a new theater, the Majestic, a renovated vaudeville house. After his retirement, the theater was renamed the BAM Harvey Theater in his honor. In 1999, President Clinton awarded Lichtenstein the National Medal of Arts.

Lichtenstein’s legacy includes significant contributions to the revitalization not only of BAM, but also its Brooklyn neighborhood. After leaving BAM, Lichtenstein became director of the BAM Local Development Corporation, an organization with the mission of creating a cultural district in the area surrounding BAM. With the construction, notably, of the nearby Mark Morris Dance Center, Theater for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center, and the BAM Fisher Building Fort Greene is now recognized as a vibrant, established arts destination.