Wright State grad named program director of Brooklyn-based arts troupe

Dayton native and Wright State University graduate Monica L. Williams has been named director of programs and chief curator of Brooklyn-based arts organization 651 ARTS.

Founded in 1988, the organization seeks to inspire emerging artists and deepen the awareness and appreciation of contemporary African Diasporic artistic expression. In addition to overseeing all aspects of programs and presentations, Williams will help the troupe focus on executing reimagined programming in the era of COVID-19, such as curating small and large scale programs, digital and live presentations.

“We, as a nation, have been deeply impacted by two pandemics — the COVID 19 crisis and the systemic racism that has plagued this country for over 400 years,” said Executive Director David J. Roberts. “I am delighted to welcome Monica to the team as she will spearhead the most integral piece of 651′s identity — our artistic programs. She is an accomplished and passionate curator deeply rooted in the arts of the Diaspora. The ways in which she centers community to the work, thinks globally, not to mention her deep love of Brooklyn, will transform 651′s programming and serve our larger organizational vision to illuminate the evolving stories and varied cultural experiences. I believe that in Monica we have found the best match for 651 in these historic and future-focused times.”

“I am excited to step into this new role to join the talented and dedicated team at 651 ARTS,” Williams said. “It is an incredible honor to now be part of continuing 651′s long and rich legacy of growing Black arts and Black artists, which has always been the heartbeat of the institution. Throughout my career, I have been dedicated to amplifying the voices and perspectives of those across the African Diaspora. It is now more important than ever before to meet the challenges of the current moment and sustain and grow institutions like 651 ARTS that are telling our stories. I look forward to working to create opportunities for many in the Diasporic arts, both locally in the wonderful borough of Brooklyn as well as abroad.”

Over the past 20 years, Williams, also a graduate of New York University, has produced, curated and directed performances with major cultural institutions including TEDWomen, the Apollo Theater, and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Her latest work, “In Love and Struggle,” produced with The Meteor, is currently streaming on Audible. She notably appeared in a guest artist capacity as Lena Younger in Wright State’s 2008 production of “A Raisin in the Sun” and starred as Esther Mills in Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s 2005 regional premiere of “Intimate Apparel.”

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