The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that James Burke has been named Executive Director of the WHBPAC effective November 18th, 2013. Since 2001, Burke has served as General Manager and then Director of Arts & Cultural Programs at the City Parks Foundation, the largest presenter of free, outdoor programming in New York City, where he stewarded more than 1,000 performing arts programs from conception to presentation. He is responsible for the renowned SummerStage and SummerStage Kids festivals, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, and youth puppet programs produced at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre and its touring component, the CityParks Puppet Mobile. Burke is the founder and chair of New York Music Presenters & Festivals, a coalition that meets quarterly to share concerns and best practices.
Prior to his career at City Parks Foundation, Burke worked in sales, marketing and promotions for a variety of music industry companies including Paradigm Associated Labels, Caroline Distribution, and CMJ Music Marathon. Earlier, as a professional musician, he was bassist, lead singer, and songwriter for various pop, blues, and alternative bands.
Chair of the Search Committee and President of the PAC’s Board of Directors Neil Braun says, "After an exhaustive nationwide search, we are thrilled to attract such a high caliber executive with extensive experience in presenting diverse talent in unique locations appealing to huge audiences. Building upon the success of the first fifteen years, we are confident that James is the right person to lead the WHBPAC into the future. "
Burke commented, "I am extremely excited to build upon the amazing legacy of the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. Programming arts and entertainment in neighborhoods across the five boroughs of NYC has prepared me well to serve the audiences from the East End and beyond. And my entire family is looking forward to becoming a part of the Westhampton community."
Burke replaces Clare Bisceglia who for eleven years has led the transformation of a local movie theatre into a nationally recognized performing arts center and the biggest provider of arts education in the county.
Chairman of the PAC’s Board of Directors Tom Poole says, "James, I’m convinced, has the knowledge, skill and desire to effectively grow and enhance executive director Clare Bisceglia’s legacy."
Burke graduated with high honors from Boston College with a BA in Philosophy and Theater and spent his junior year at Oxford University. He and his wife Jennifer Townsend, an elementary school teacher, plan to relocate to the Westhampton Beach area with their three children.