DCAC Announces the Departure of Longtime Executive Director B. Stanley

By Editorial Team on August 2, 2021
DCAC in the mid 1990s.  Image courtesy DCAC.

The District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC) in Adams Morgan announces that B. Stanley, the Executive Artistic Director for the past 27 years, is leaving the position. “It’s a tough decision, because I really love what I do, but I think it’s time for the next generation to bring their vision and passion to DCAC,” said Stanley. DCAC as it exists today is due in large part to his tenacity and dedication to the mission of the organization, performing not only his artistic and administrative roles, but also that of painter, carpenter, plumber and roofer. He has been instrumental in keeping the organization alive while working tirelessly with hundreds of visual artists, performers, theater groups, curators, funders and supporters to make DCAC the unique and treasured artistic institution that it is today.

Stanley was brought in by then Board Chair and artist, John Dreyfuss, when the future of DCAC seemed uncertain. After only five years of existence, the sudden departure of the previous director left the mostly volunteer organization in a precarious financial and operational position. Stanley stepped in as acting Executive Director on July 21, 1994 and was given the job permanently one year later. Under his guidance, DCAC started booking more shows in its theater, adding a 10pm slot that accommodated mostly music and alternative performance art. The schedule for the visual arts gallery was also expanded, and with a newly formed Visual Arts Committee, began seeking out new and diverse voices in the DC arts scene.

Stanley made his mark as an arts innovator in Washington during the early 1980’s. He was a co-founder of the experimental theater group, Theatre Du Jour, which renovated and operated the Jarry Performance Studio at 14th and T Streets NW and the originator of the JavaRama, a coffeehouse performance space next door; both entities that he and his colleagues built from scratch with no outside funding. He was a fixture on the performance scene, appearing at DC Space and the WPA as well as founding and emceeing “The Performance Improv Jam,” a monthly open mic of sorts for performers of all kinds in a loft above the now defunct Ardis Music Store on Connecticut Avenue, and which continued for six years in three locations. In 1987 he left DC for New York, where he worked with The Living Theater and Protean Forms Collective, and in 1989 went to Pontremoli, Italy to work with the Institutet for Scenkonst, a Swedish theatre group with a focus on pedagogy. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1994, his plans to return to New York for a short time and then back to Europe were interrupted when his artistic roots in DC drew him to DCAC and its commitment to making sure that artists had a place to do their work. “Most of the places I had access to when I was coming up as an artist didn’t exist anymore, and I didn’t want to see DCAC vanish as well,” says Stanley. His plan was to stay for five years. During his tenure at DCAC he has continued to act and direct with Theatre Du Jour as well as performing with other groups such as Cherry Red Productions and the Puppet Co., and is currently working on a solo performance that will open at DCAC this fall.

The Board of Directors of DCAC is posting a listing for the job of Executive Director and hopes to fill the position by September. “Not that we can find another B. Stanley,” Board Chair Philip Barlow noted, “but hopefully we can find someone who embraces DCAC’s mission like he has.” What’s next for Stanley? He has plenty of ideas for performances with Theatre Du Jour, and will be glad to get back into rehearsals with the group as soon as safely possible.

The District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), artist-run, member-supported organization located in Adams Morgan. It was founded to support new, emerging and underserved artists by providing affordable and accessible space and programs while developing relationships with audiences. DCAC seeks out artists from minority communities, artists at the beginning of their careers, artists producing noncommercial or experimental work, and self-taught artists, offering them the first rung on the difficult ladder of a professional arts career. It does not shy away from the political or controversial. In any given year, DCAC will host over 200 performances of over 30 different groups; present 13 art exhibitions of over 50 artists with opening receptions and artists’ talks; run artists’ collective and curatorial mentorship programs; host over 125 rehearsals and workshops; design and publish three full color gallery catalogs; and provide fiscal sponsorship and guidance to artists and emerging arts organizations.

[Source: DCAC press release]