By Cady Schulman / email@example.com
Steven Libman has always loved the arts and has centered his career on them, working for organizations like the Pittsburgh Ballet and the La Jolla Playhouse.
Last year Libman left his native Northeast to become the chief advancement officer of the Atlanta Ballet.
“It’s been wonderful,” Libman said of his first seven months in Atlanta. “The staff is incredible. The board of directors is incredibly dedicated to the organization. Artistically, it’s been a wonderful dream to return to ballet. I haven’t worked full time for a ballet company in a long time. It’s wonderful to be back in an art form that I love.”
As chief advancement officer, Libman is in charge of fundraising and building relationships with current and potential donors.
“As a fundraiser, I’m creating opportunities for the whole community to see this phenomenal, world-class ballet company,” the Jewish community member said. “What gives me the greatest pride is raising the money that allows the organization to succeed.”
In addition to enjoying various arts performances and museums in Atlanta, Libman attended this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which he said was amazing.
“It was absolutely extraordinary,” he said. “I did not expect that I would encounter something like that. When I lived in San Diego, there was a Jewish film festival, and it was nowhere near this one.”
In addition to his work for the ballet, Libman hosts a weekly arts education radio show with Jeffrey Swensson, a retired educator. The show, called “The Voice of the Performing Arts,” focuses on the value of arts education as opposed to talking about upcoming performances.
“We talk to philanthropists, artists, members of Congress — they all talk about why the arts are important to society, who their mentor was,” Libman said. “Some of these stories are fascinating. We interviewed an attorney who said his high school band teacher had the most influence on him because he taught him about collaboration and hard work.”
The hosts also talk a lot about the STEM to STEAM movement, which incorporates the arts into science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula.
“We feel that whether you’re a scientist or an engineer or a physicist, you need to be creative in how you think,” Libman said. “I think in some ways our government gets it. They’re vastly expanding opportunities in film here.”
The Voice of the Performing Arts airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. and streams at thevoiceoftheperformingarts.com. Libman also owns the Libman Group, an arts management and leadership consulting company.
The Atlanta Ballet is finishing its 2014-15 season with three shows: the world premiere of “Camino Real,” which will be performed March 20, 21 and 22; “Modern Choreographic Voices,” set for April 17 to 19; and “MAYhem” from May 15 to 17.
Libman said every performance this season has been a highlight for him.
“I love ‘The Nutcracker’ and watching ‘The Nutcracker’ choreographed,” he said. “Having the pleasure of watching ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was extraordinary. It was an incredible ballet. It’s a minimalist version of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ but I absolutely loved it. That was just breathtaking.”
The local ballet company also is creating its own ballet that ballet artistic directors from across the country, including Boston and Washington, are coming to see.
“I think it’s very important that arts organizations breathe life into repertoires,” Libman said. “The ballet contains original choreography, music, sets, costumes, lighting. It’s very exciting.”
The ballet reflects its belief in the importance of arts education by offering summer camps to disadvantaged students — a program it hopes to expand — and providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in scholarships to help young dancers take classes at the Atlanta Ballet.
“We like to think we are creating these transformational moments for people,” Libman said. “We know most of the students will never go on to a career in ballet, but hopefully we’ve turned them into lifelong fans of ballet.”
What: World premiere of the ballet “Camino Real,” based on a Tennessee Williams play
Where: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Cumberland district
When: March 20 at 8 p.m., March 21 at 2 and 8 p.m., March 22 at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $23 to $92; tickets.atlantaballet.com