Atlanta Ballet Announces New Executive Director

Atlanta Ballet names former Chief Advancement Officer at American Film Institute Tom West as organization’s next leader

ATLANTA (August 12, 2021) – Following a five-month national search, Atlanta Ballet is pleased to announce the appointment of Tom West as the organization’s new Executive Director. West, who most recently served as Chief Advancement Officer at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, California, was the undisputed choice of Atlanta Ballet's Search Committee, and the Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the committee's recommendation to hire West for this critical role. In a process led by Arts Consulting Group, Atlanta Ballet launched its search for a new executive director earlier this year after former Atlanta Ballet President & CEO Arturo Jacobus announced his impending retirement following a successful 12-year tenure. West is currently transitioning into the role and will fully assume the post by September 27, 2021.

West’s career in arts management spans more than 20 years, and includes leadership roles at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and American Film Institute. In addition to leading fundraising efforts for large and complex cultural institutions, he has a track record in strategic planning, board leadership development, revenue growth, donor and audience relations, community engagement, and team building.

“Tom's leadership experience in top-tier arts organizations, his ability to effectively communicate the power and relevance of the arts to community stakeholders, his business acumen, and his demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, make him an outstanding choice to lead our organization at this pivotal time,” said Nancy Field, Chair of Atlanta Ballet’s Board of Trustees. “On behalf of our Board of Trustees, I welcome Tom and look forward to working with him as we seek to gain greater national recognition for the extraordinary artistic caliber of our professional company under Gennadi Nedvigin's artistic direction, and as we strive to become more integral to the fabric of Atlanta’s diverse community through inspiring performances, superior dance education, and increased community access.”

This announcement comes on the heels of one of Atlanta Ballet’s – and the arts industry’s – most challenging chapters. While it will undoubtedly take time to fully recover from the pandemic’s significant impact, West’s appointment as its next Executive Director can be added to an ever-growing list of reasons to remain optimistic about the organization’s bright future, alongside recent fundraising success and the Company’s upcoming return to the stage.

Commitments to Atlanta Ballet’s Back to the Stage Campaign for COVID-19 relief and recovery total more than $3.7 million, and include more than 3,100 gifts from loyal patrons. Additionally, after a nearly two-year hiatus forced by the effects of COVID-19, Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director Gennadi Nedvigin recently announced the Company’s return to live, in-person theatre productions with an exciting 2021|2022 performance season featuring a mix of classics, contemporary works and world premieres, including Atlanta Ballet Choreographer-in-Residence Claudia Schreier’s new creation.

“Tom’s extensive experience in successful fundraising, Board development and governance combined with his knowledge and understanding of the benefits that the arts offer our community are invaluable,” said Nedvigin.  “He has a kind and calm demeanor, yet has the ability to inspire an energetic and productive atmosphere with his fresh, dynamic leadership approach based on the collective experiences of everyone in the room. I look forward to merging his distinguished professional background and valuable connections with our existing strategic vision to expand our reach within the digital world, the metro Atlanta area, the state of Georgia and beyond.”

“It is an honor to join the remarkable leadership team at the Atlanta Ballet as it returns to the stage and studios,” said West. “While there will be challenges in the year ahead, Gennadi Nedvigin’s artistic leadership throughout the last five years has elevated the Company and its recognition nationally, and the Centre for Dance Education remains a top destination for the next generation of dancers.”

West continues: “I am grateful to Nancy Field, Gennadi and the Atlanta Ballet Board of Trustees for their vote of confidence as I step into the shoes of one of America’s most respected arts leaders, Arturo Jacobus.  The solid foundation he has laid at Atlanta Ballet and his generosity of spirit as I begin my tenure are great gifts.”

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About Atlanta Ballet:

Founded in 1929, Atlanta Ballet is one of the premier dance companies in the country and the official state Ballet of Georgia. Under the artistic leadership of Gennadi Nedvigin, Atlanta Ballet introduces audiences to a wide spectrum of dance styles including nineteenth century classics, neoclassical works, contemporary ballets and exclusive signature commissions by today’s top-tier choreographers.  After 91 seasons, Atlanta Ballet continues its commitment to share and educate audiences on the empowering joy of dance. By presenting a rich and diverse repertoire, Atlanta Ballet’s balanced blend of traditional and innovative programming aims to further develop and deepen the appreciation of ballet within the Atlanta community and beyond.

In 1996, Atlanta Ballet opened its Centre for Dance Education, which is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity. By offering a robust list of dance classes and spearheading a variety of community engagement programs, the Centre serves over 23,000 people in metro Atlanta each year. Atlanta Ballet's roots remain firmly grounded in the Atlanta community and continue to play a vital role in the city's cultural growth and revitalization.


Julia Berg | Director of Public Relations – Atlanta Ballet | 404.226.1127