Press Release: New Contract and New Title for Atlanta Ballet Executive Director Arturo Jacobus



New Contract and New Title for Atlanta Ballet Executive Director Arturo Jacobus 


Jacobus Named President and CEO

Extension Solidifies Atlanta Ballet Leadership Through 2019

Artistic Director John McFall and Centre for Dance Education Dean Sharon Story Also Renew Contracts and Celebrate Nearly 20 Years with the Organization


ATLANTA – April 14, 2014 - Atlanta Ballet board chair Allen Nelson announced today that executive director Arturo Jacobus will remain at the helm of the 85-year-old institution for at least another five years, as he has accepted an extension to his employment agreement. 

Effective immediately, the new contract will ensure the continued leadership of the successful management team at the top of the nationally-recognized dance company, which, in addition to Jacobus, includes artistic director John McFall and Centre for Dance Education dean Sharon Story, who both recently renewed for three years as well. 

As a team, McFall, who will celebrate his 20th anniversary with the Company this fall; Story, who celebrates 18 years; and Jacobus, who joined in December 2009, have achieved unprecedented success.

Under their shared administration over the past five years, Atlanta Ballet has prospered as an organization and raised the profile of the Company nationally and internationally.  Specifically, their accomplishments include:

  • Completion of the $20M “Choreographing Our Future” capital campaign, the largest fundraising effort in the organization’s history
  • Opening of the Ballet's new headquarters, the Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre - the 55,000-square-foot facility in the epicenter of Atlanta’s emerging west midtown arts and culture district
  • Full-time return of the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra
  • Addition of a choreographer in residence, Helen Pickett
  • Establishment of the artistic innovation fund – an initiative that has already spawned world premieres such as Twyla Tharp’s The Princess and the Goblin and collaborations with world-renowned choreographers like Ohad Naharin, Alexei Ratmansky and Jean-Christophe Maillot
  • Addition of the Conservatory division to Atlanta Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education
  • Participation in China’s inaugural “International Ballet Festival” – the troupe’s first international tour in more than a decade

In addition to the extension, Jacobus’ title will change from executive director to president and CEO – a change that, according to Nelson, will more accurately reflect the Board's expectation that he is ultimately accountable for all administrative and financial aspects of Atlanta Ballet, including long-term strategies and strategic partnerships as well as the day-to-day operations and bottom-line performance.

It’s also a title and responsibility that Jacobus is familiar with. The veteran arts executive previously served as president and CEO of Pacific Northwest Ballet from 1984 through 1993 and later went on to be the executive director of San Francisco Ballet, where he built its endowment from $3.2 million to $35 million and helped transform the then-regional company into an internationally-renowned powerhouse.

Atlanta Ballet is now poised to follow the same trajectory.

With its leadership firmly in place for the foreseeable future, the organization is prepared to embark on its next chapter.

Its new strategic plan outlines a continued focus on long-term financial stability through the increase of its cash reserves and the building of its endowment; a commitment towards further establishing a distinct artistic profile for the Company; and continued growth for the Centre for Dance Education.



About Arturo Jacobus: President and CEO Arturo Jacobus is in his fifth season with Atlanta Ballet.  From 1984 through 1993, Jacobus was president of Pacific Northwest Ballet; and from 1993 through 2002, he served as the executive director of San Francisco Ballet.  Jacobus has also served as CEO/executive director of Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle; president of COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa, CA; president of The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville, KY; and president of the Oakland Symphony in Oakland, CA.  He holds masters degrees in Business Administration, Arts Administration, and Human Resources Management, and he has completed management programs at University of Washington and Harvard Business School.  Jacobus has served on a number of executive boards in the arts community, including Dance/USA, Washington State Arts Alliance, Northwest Development Officers' Association, and California Arts Advocates.  Throughout his career, Jacobus has remained actively involved in strategy and advocacy in the arts by chairing and sitting on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Dance/USA, and the City of Atlanta's Office of Cultural Affairs.  Prior to his career as an arts executive, Jacobus served for 20 years as a bandmaster for the United States Navy, leading ensembles in Villefranche, France; Gaeta and Naples, Italy; and San Francisco, California. 


About John McFall: John McFall studied dance with Ms. Tatiana Dokoudovska who not only taught him the art of dance, but also inspired him to pursue an adventurous life in theater.  At 16, he was contracted to dance at Starlight Theater, one of the showcase summer stock venues in the country.  Following this, he performed with the San Francisco Ballet for two decades, working with distinguished choreographers and touring the world.  McFall became recognized as a choreographer himself and was commissioned to create premieres for a variety of companies, including San Francisco Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, and National Ballet of Canada.  Mikael Baryshnikov invited McFall to create two works for American Ballet Theater in which Mikael also performed.  In 1986 McFall received an invitation from Robert Barnett, Artistic Director of Atlanta Ballet, to premiere a work titled Watchers.  Eight years later McFall would become artistic director. John has continued to contribute to the Atlanta Ballet repertoire with classics such as Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Swan Lake, Firebird, and Don Quixote.  Notably, he has expanded the range of the repertoire with invitations to many of the world’s most provocative and imaginative choreographers.  These individuals include Wayne McGregor, Jorma Elo, Ohad Naharin, David Bintley, Christopher Wheeldon, James Kudelka, and Twyla Tharp.  McFall is committed to continue leading Atlanta Ballet into the future with innovative and extraordinary works.  By commissioning brilliant choreographers and nurturing the development of new talent, he will ensure that for generations to come Atlanta Ballet will present evenings of dance that touch the soul and engage the imagination.  Simply put, to INSPIRE.


About Sharon Story: Sharon Story is currently in her 18th season with Atlanta Ballet. She joined Atlanta Ballet after a professional dance career that spanned more than 20 years, including tenures with Joffrey Ballet, the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and Boston Ballet. In 1996, in addition to her role as ballet mistress, John McFall's vision and mentorship brought Story to her current position as Dean of the Centre for Dance Education, which has rapidly grown to one of the largest dance schools in the nation. She is committed to providing a non-competitive atmosphere and access to dance education that is shaped by the community needs, is innovative, and inspires the commitment and excellence that are the trademarks of Atlanta Ballet. Under Story’s direction, the Centre achieved accreditation with National Association of Schools of Dance. Story is a member of the Commission on Accreditation for NASD and is delighted to serve on many community and national boards.


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. Atlanta Ballet's eclectic repertoire spans ballet history, highlighted by beloved classics and inventive originals. After 85 years, Atlanta Ballet continues its commitment to share and educate audiences on the empowering joy of dance. In 1996, Atlanta Ballet opened the Centre for Dance Education and is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity. The Centre serves over 150,000 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. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @atlantaballet, and like us on Facebook at