by Seth Rogovoy
(BECKET, Mass.) – Ella Baff, who as executive and artistic director for the last 17 years has steered Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival to its position of prominence as one of the most successful performing arts organizations in the Berkshires and as probably the preeminent dance festival in the world, has accepted a new position as senior program officer for arts and cultural heritage at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York.
An esteemed leader in the arts and cultural field, Baff has overseen phenomenal growth, financial stability, and artistic innovation at the helm of Jacob’s Pillow, a National Historic Landmark, National Medal of Arts recipient, and home to America’s longest running dance festival, for the past 17 years.
She will leave behind a huge legacy as well as her trademark curtain-raising remark, “Let’s dance!”
Mark Leavitt, Jacob’s Pillow Board Chair, comments, “The Jacob’s Pillow Board and I congratulate Ella Baff on her exciting new position with the Mellon Foundation. The Mellon Foundation is an important institution that has been a longtime supporter of the arts and some of the Pillow’s most successful programs. Ella’s seventeen-year tenure has distinguished the Pillow artistically, financially, and in reputation. It’s the strongest the institution has ever been in its 83-year history. We have a talented and ambitious staff that will help us to continue to grow and prosper. I know that Jacob’s Pillow founder Ted Shawn is somewhere smiling down on both the Pillow and Ella.”
Ella Baff comments, “There is only one Jacob’s Pillow. It has been an experience beyond imagining to lead, to serve, and to work with the greatest artists in the world. The Pillow’s passionate, dedicated Board and staff are simply the best, and I am proud of everything that we have accomplished together. I am honored to be joining the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a great and forward-thinking institution that sustains and champions the arts and humanities. In this role, my commitment to the field continues in a new way, through philanthropy.”
Ella Baff will continue to serve as executive and artistic director of Jacob’s Pillow through the end of the 2015 festival.