Ben Johnson (left) who is credited with revitalizing the dance program at the Northrop Auditorium and is spearheading the refurbishment of the historic U of M performance space, will leave January 1st to become Director of Programs for the United States Artists Foundation in Los Angeles. There he will oversee the USA Fellows program, which awards major $50,000 grants annually to 50 artists who work in film, theater, dance, music, design, visual arts, literature, and American craft.
In a statement released this afternoon Johnson said: "Naturally, the decision to depart Northrop was incredibly difficult, as this historic organization and program has been instrumental in my arts career. This opportunity to serve artists so directly, and at such a scale, is at the center of my greatest passions and career aspirations. I will be actively engaged in the LA art scene, as well as working on a national level in all 50 states."
Johnson is responsible for bringing some of the top dance companies in the world to Northrop, and recently began collaborating with the University of St Catherine on the Women of Substance series. Just last night the program featured Miami choreographer Rosie Herrera.
The Northrop has been closed for a year while it is extensively remodeled and refurbished, but Johnson continued the program in collaboration with theaters in downtown Minneapolis. He has also been working on a huge program for the re-opening of the hall next year.
Northrop Director Christine Tschida said Johnson will be missed.
"Ben's legacy has been a great one at Northrop Concerts and Lectures, and, in the exciting seasons ahead, I know you will see his influence - and also his smiling face, in what I hope will be frequent visits!"
(Image courtesy Northrop Auditorium, photo - Tim Rummelhoff)