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Deborah Rutter

Deborah Rutter

President, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2017 Mark Twain Prize For American Humor

Deborah Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, has just completed an ambitious $250 million expansion of the esteemed cultural hub. In addition to adding new classrooms, studios and a café, Rutter is also making programming and staff appointments intended to enliven and diversify the center. Among her hires: Gianandrea Noseda as music director for the National Symphony Orchestra and Q-Tip, of the group A Tribe Called Quest, as the center’s first artistic director of hip-hop culture. The first woman to lead the center, Rutter, who was appointed in 2015 after heading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, says she’s committed to making the space accessible and drawing in new audiences. “There’s value to being inspired and knocked out by the grandeur,” she told the New York Times. “But there’s also something really important about feeling welcome, that this is really for you.”

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