SOMArts Cultural Center, the city-funded artist incubator, gallery and performance space, announced Thursday that it has hired San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art's Maria Jenson to be its new executive director.
Jenson comes from SFMOMA's External Relations team, where she worked for the past three years managing community relationships and public partnerships. She leaves for her new position just days after the newly-renovated museum reopens.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Jenson says she wants to work with SOMArts to help emerging artists find their way into San Francisco's growing art world, adding, "Everybody needs a place to cultivate their ideas, and I think the cultural centers really provide that opportunity."
Located under the I-80 overpass, SOMArts is one of six city-supported non-profit cultural centers that provide space for young, experimental artists to create their work and perform or exhibit new works outside of the often exclusive, profit-minded art world.
Representatives of SOMArts and the city have expressed excitement over Jenson's hire.
“The San Francisco Arts Commission is thrilled that the SOMArts Board has selected Maria Jenson as its new Executive Director, said San Francisco Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny in a statement. "Beyond Maria’s impressive resume, she brings with her an inclusive spirit and a proven track record of bridging communities through dynamic and accessible arts programming. We’re confident that under her demonstrated leadership, SOMArts will thrive toward its mission of being a vital resource for our local and regional arts and culture community."
The center has been without an executive director since June 2015, after executive director Lex Leifheit, who held the position since 2008, took a job with the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Economic & Workforce Development.