Michael Roberts, Executive Director for New York Public Programs at the Asia Society, has recently been selected as the new executive director for the Fine Arts Work Center (FAWC) in Provincetown, the country's oldest continuous art colony. Bringing over three decades of experience with arts and cultural non-profit organizations, his background is sure to build on the progress implemented by retiring Director Margaret Murphy.
Since the summer of 1899, when Charles Hawthorne established the Cape Cod School of Art, Provincetown has grown to be one of the nation’s foremost artists’ colonies. In 1968, building on the vitality of the city, a group of American artists and writers, including Robert Motherwell, Stanly Kunitz and Jack Tworkov founded The Fine Arts Work Center under the belief "that the freedom to pursue creative work within a community of peers is the best catalyst for artistic growth."1 Their mission was both to retain promising young artists who were fleeing the city due to a real estate boom that priced them out of the market and to provide stimulation and support to these individuals in the early stages of their careers. Today, the FAWC encourages the growth and development of creative individuals through a myriad of programming including seven-month residencies for ten writers and ten visual artists, a low-residency MFA degree in collaboration with the Massachusetts College of Art and Design first started in September 2005, seasonal programs, and other events.
Roberts comes from his most recent position at the Asia Society and Museum—an organization originally founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller III to explain aspects about Asia to Americans and has since refocused to include cross-disciplinary programming in business, arts and culture, education, and public policy among and between Asians and Americans. Roberts’ role at the organization was to oversee public programming that encompassed their mission and to create public events and platforms for presenting diverse viewpoints. Prior to this, he served for 11 years as director of the PEN American Center in New York, a worldwide literary and human rights organization, where he supervised their first annual PEN World Voices: The New York Festival of International Literature.
Roberts’ managerial skills, experience with public programming and deep knowledge of the network of literature and the arts is sure to be reflected in what he’ll bring to the FAWC, having worked with artists and writers over much of his career. Hopefully his tenure in leading the organization will be invaluable for continuing the mission of the Work Center and for further expanding its programmatic and international reach.