Singing away

The Keene State College Concert Choir is seen in this file photo during a rehearsal in 2019 in the Redfern Arts Center under the direction of Matthew Leese.

The Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College is shifting its focus to increase artistic and educational opportunities for students and expand partnerships with local performers.

Two new executive artistic directors — Jeannie-Marie Brown, an associate professor of theater and dance, and Chris Swist, a resident musician — will oversee these changes when they begin their new roles next month, the college announced Tuesday.

Under their leadership, the Redfern will be tied more closely to Keene State’s academic programs in the performing arts, said Kristi Sandy, the college’s dean of arts, education and humanities.

“The Redfern Arts Center is the ideal place for students to share their work with support from our community, and the Redfern allows students to collaborate more closely with artists in the region,” Sandy said in a news release from the college. “It is a valuable platform for students to maximize their education while they are with us, and to be even more prepared for success after they graduate.”

Plans for the Redfern include adding a certification in arts management for students, through which they will complete a specialized internship based on their interests and goals.

“The transformation of the Redfern Arts Center will serve to be a living lab providing our students with direct, valuable experiences, and the Monadnock Region high-quality arts programming,” Brown and Swist wrote in a joint statement.

The Redfern, which opened in 1981, will still offer children’s programming and continue existing partnerships with community-based arts organizations such as Arts Alive! and The Colonial Theatre. The center’s annual performance season — which features plays, concerts and dance shows — will still open with a free kickoff event, too.

But the center will be more selective about hosting national and international acts, linking them more closely with initiatives at the college, while featuring more performers from this region, according to Kelly Ricaurte, a college spokeswoman.

Additionally, the Redfern hopes to expand its community engagement into workshops, festivals and summer programs.

“We recognize the incredible talent and passion that lives within the art community throughout the Monadnock Region,” Sandy said. “In addition to an increased focus on student performances, the Redfern will also feature more local and regional artists and performers — providing another venue to cultivate and support the region’s arts offerings.”

And as the Redfern prepares to update its offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic, its leaders say they will follow guidelines set forth by the N.H. Economic Re-Opening Task Force and consult with other performing arts venues about how to reopen safely.

“Our programming will not begin face-to-face until we can meet all safety protocols and guidelines,” Brown and Swist said in their statement.

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or jrooney@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.