JW3 New Programming Director Press Release


New JW3 Programming Director Revealed

JW3 is delighted to announce an exciting new chapter with the appointment of the award-winning theatre director Rachel Grunwald as its new Programming Director. This follows an international search for a successor to Colin Bulka, Programming Director since JW3 opened, following his move to Budapest to take up the role as Director of JDC Hungary.

Rachel has developed a reputation throughout her career for her sharp-edged artistic work, as well as for her service to community theatre and her leadership and activism within the Jewish community.

During her theatrical career, she has travelled around the UK with the Royal Shakespeare Company, directed world premieres for the Tricycle Theatre’s Olivier Award-nominated production The Great Game Afghanistan in London and on tour of the USA, and won Time Out’s Hit of the Year on the Fringe for the musical Pins and Needles. She trained at RADA and the National Theatre Studio.

She has held leadership roles within the Jewish community as Director of Community Development at Hampstead Synagogue and as leader of ‘Act for Darfur’, a group of Jewish artists working in partnership with political groups and NGOs to raise awareness of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Rachel says, “I am delighted to be coming to work for JW3 and to lead the incredibly talented team assembled by my predecessor, Colin Bulka. My Jewish identity has always driven my desire to work with and for communities, and my understanding of the centrality of arts, culture and ritual stems directly from the Jewish education and experiences I had as a child,” she said.

“I’m inspired by our CEO Raymond Simonson’s vision of increasing the quality, quantity and volume of Jewish conversation, and I’m excited to develop this by bringing a wide variety of other groups into the conversation. I’ll be hoping to extend the reach of JW3 through new partnerships in London and around the UK, so that we become embedded in the cultural landscape and with other communities.”

Rachel is a Fellow of the prestigious Clore Cultural Leadership Programme, founded by Dame Vivien Duffield, the visionary behind JW3, where she received training in all aspects of running cultural organisations.

A committed member of the Jewish community, she said it was her passion to support programming which established JW3 as an “inclusive, non-denominational, apolitical space of connection” which she said was “deeply important to the health of our community and the wider community”.

She added: “It’s in the space created by JW3, and the connections we make in that space, that we find resilience at times when relations between communities – and within them – can become brittle or fractured.”

Rachel added that she wanted JW3’s programming to influence the national conversation by using a Jewish lens to explore 21st century issues. “I look forward to turning our resources – including well-earned educational credentials, great community and cultural programming, an award-winning building and a community network full of professional experts and academics – to critical social challenges such as social care or mental health, and in this way hopefully contributing to and influencing the national conversation,” she said.

Raymond Simonson, Chief Executive of JW3, said: “When we launched the search for our new Programming Director, we were overwhelmed by the response, with applications coming in from across the UK, Israel and the USA. In a strong field with some exceptional candidates, Rachel stood out from the start. Her reputation across the UK arts and cultural scene proceeded her, with admirers including Sir John Tusa, former MD of the Barbican, and Nicholas Kent, former Artistic Director of the Tricycle. This, combined with her commitment to, understanding of, and involvement with the Jewish community, made her an ideal person to lead our next phase of developing JW3’s year-round programme”.

Paying tribute to the work of outgoing Programming Director, Colin Bulka, Simonson added: “Colin had the difficult challenge of building our first years’ programming strategy from a blank piece of paper, and creating the team that could deliver it. We challenged him to do something that’s never previously been done in the UK, and I’ve been amazed, and extremely proud, at what he and the team have established in the short space of under four years. It’s a very strong platform from which Rachel will continue to build.”

If you would like to interview Rachel Grunwald, please contact Dafna Wachman Cohen, Director of Marketing & Sales on 020 7433 8960 or dafna@jw3.org.uk

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