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Change in Leadership for Ballet Arkansas

Board President Karen Shinn Bassett to succeed Lauren Strother as executive director.
LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) - Ballet Arkansas announced today that Lauren Strother will step down from her executive director role at the end of April to allow for more time with her family. Board President Karen Shinn Bassett is retiring from her job as Chief Deputy Director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to lead the nonprofit arts organization.

“Under Lauren’s leadership, Ballet Arkansas has experienced stable growth, and the board is confident in Karen’s ability to build upon it,” said Artistic Director Michael Bearden. “She is familiar with our organization's mission and brings a wealth of experience in management to Ballet Arkansas.”

Bassett has 13 years of executive level experience between ADEQ and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

“I am so honored to be following Lauren into this position and so excited to be given the opportunity to work with Michael Bearden and the amazing dancers in Ballet Arkansas's company,” Bassett said. “Through their hard work, talent and vision, Ballet Arkansas is poised to go as high as the support of the people and businesses of Arkansas want to take us.”

Strother will remain in her role through the company’s performance season, which still includes “Turning Pointe,” the April 4 gala honoring Kaki Hockersmith, and “Momentum,” which runs from April 25-27 at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Tickets for both events are available on the Ballet Arkansas website. Bassett will become executive director on May 1 as Strother transitions into an advisory role with the company.

“This is an exciting time in Ballet Arkansas’s history, and it has been immensely rewarding to be in the director’s chair for the past three years,” Strother said. In that time, the company has doubled its stable of professional dancers and inked a deal to be a prominent part of Little Rock’s emerging arts district on Main Street. “The company is on solid footing, and soon, my one-year-old will be on his feet too. For me personally, this is the right time to make this move, and because of Karen, I can do so with confidence in Ballet Arkansas’s future.”
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