UAB names Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center executive director

UAB’s ASC will be led by Anna M. Thompson, who comes to UAB from Notre Dame after a national search.

anne thompsonAnna M. Thompson has been named executive director of the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham after a national search. Thompson comes to UAB from the University of Notre Dame, where she served for eight years as executive director of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and the Judd and Mary Lou Leighton director for the performing arts.

A 12-member search committee was chaired by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robert Palazzo and included UAB and UAB Medicine faculty and staff, as well as members of the ASC Advisory Board, Corporate Board and Junior Patrons Board.

“The committee was afforded the luxury of reviewing several very qualified candidates, and we are excited about what this hire means to our campus, city and region,” Palazzo said. “Anna’s passion for the arts, and her impressive background and experience, will accelerate the exciting growth of the arts at UAB that are enjoyed broadly by our community.”

Thompson — previously a music educator who has now worked in arts for more than 30 years and arts administration for more than 20 years — oversees all administration and finances for the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and specializes as a curator of performing arts programming. She also develops interdisciplinary visiting artist residency projects.

Before Notre Dame, Thompson spent 10 years in Minnesota at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, where she unified the institutions’ fine arts program. Prior to that, Thompson served as an arts administrator in Indianapolis for 14 years at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Butler University.

Thompson served on Dance/USA’s National Board of Trustees from 2004-2010 and is a frequent lecturer and presenter at regional, national and international performing arts conferences. Among her achievements is the 2004 North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents Presenter of the Year Award.

Thompson will report to the Office of the President.

“I would like to thank the search committee for their continued commitment to our great institution and for identifying such strong candidates,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “The ASC’s contributions to the arts in Birmingham cannot be overstated. Anna has a great opportunity to build on the notable success the ASC has experienced under Senior Vice President Shirley Salloway Kahn, and I look forward to what she will do.”

Thompson, who received strong recommendations and high praise throughout the search process for her arts management experience, national involvement in the arts and ability to build strong collaborations, will begin work at UAB on December 1, 2015.

“I am honored to serve as the next executive director of Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center,” Thompson said. “I look forward to being a part of the Birmingham arts community and leading what is already a dynamic institution with vibrant programming. The emphasis UAB places on engagement through the arts is especially important to me. I will continue to build upon the educational outreach initiatives, and to expand the center’s presence nationally as a presenter and commissioner in the performing arts.”  

Thompson received her bachelor’s degree from Albion College and her master’s from Western Michigan University, with additional studies in educational leadership at Butler University and a certificate in executive leadership from the University of Notre Dame. Thompson is a member of the International Society for the Performing Arts, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Chamber Music America and Dance/USA.

The national search was supported by Arts Consulting Group.