2 acclaimed arts organizations in San Antonio inaugurate new leaders


New leaders have been chosen for two beloved local arts institutions: the San Antonio Art Museum and The Classical Theater of San Antonio.

Professional actor and director J. Robert “Jimmy” Moore has returned to his hometown to join the Classic Theater of San Antonio as the association’s new executive and artistic director.

Elsewhere, the board of trustees of the highly regarded San Antonio Museum of Art has appointed Emily Ballew Neff as the museum’s new director, following an international search.

According to Randy Stier, Chairman of the Board of Classic Theater, Moore brings to his new role leadership, directing and acting experience from theaters across the country.

He “demonstrates extraordinary zeal, motivation and determination, as well as a deep commitment to reaching out to the diverse communities in our city,” Stier said in a statement. “Under [Moore’s] leadership, we look forward to the San Antonians enjoying the shared experience of relevant, diverse, entertaining and transformative performances at the Classic Theater of San Antonio for years to come.

Moore is a Marshall High School graduate with a bachelor’s degree in production and performance, and a master’s degree in directing from Texas State University, according to a statement. In addition, he studied with the famous Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in England.

Since such impressive engagements, Moore has worked in New York City, off Broadway, at Madison Square Garden, and with regional theaters across the country.

Moore says he looks forward to immersing himself in San Antonio’s arts community, noting its vibrancy and possibilities.

“I want to continue to build on the Classic Theater’s reputation for quality and professionalism in our city,” said Moore. “For me, a big part of this is creating a home for our performing artists where they feel fulfilled and respected. … I am excited to work with storytellers in our city to find innovative and compelling ways for audiences to experience their favorite shows while exploring creative additions to the classic canon.

At the San Antonio Museum of Art, Ballew Neff brings a wealth of experience to her new role as Director, most notably as Executive Director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis, Tennessee.

According to a statement, she led efforts to move the museum to downtown Memphis to strengthen its role within the city’s civic and cultural core.

Ballew Neff was also director and chief curator of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, and founding curator of American painting and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

Ballew Neff begins his new role at SAMA on January 18th.

Museum Board Chairman Ed Hart said that as a native Texan, Ballew Neff has an understanding of the region and maintains a range of relationships that will help support SAMA’s vision and work. .

“During his career, [Ballew Neff] has proven to be an exceptional leader with a strong commitment to community, a skilled fundraiser and a thoughtful curator who highlights important stories about people, cultures and places, ”Hart said.

“As San Antonio continues to develop as a vibrant cultural center,” he continues, “she is exactly the person we need to lead the institution into its next chapter as an engaging civic institution that embraces and reflects its many audiences. “

Ballew Neff began her career at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston in 1989 as a curatorial assistant. She rose through the ranks to become the first head of the museum’s American painting and sculpture department, a position she held from 1997 to 2013.

Ballew Neff notes that SAMA has grown over the past 40 years as an institution recognized for a vast encyclopedic collection, a history of scholarship and innovative presentations, and a commitment to the community.

“I look forward to the opportunity to work with the museum’s team and board to further strengthen its leadership role within the city of San Antonio and the broader artistic and cultural landscape of the country,” Ballew Neff said. “I am also delighted to return to Texas as a member of the rapidly growing San Antonio community and to continue to expand the museum’s collaborations, collections, exhibits and programs in new and compelling directions.”


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