CTG Announces Desai as New Artistic Director

Snehal Desai will become the next artistic director of Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group, joining Managing Director and CEO Meghan Pressman to lead one of the nation’s largest theatre organizations. Desai’s appointment follows a national search led by Arts Consulting Group  and an internal Search Committee comprised of members of CTG’s Board, under the leadership of Search Chair Gail Berman, Board President Amy Forbes, and Managing Director and CEO Meghan Pressman. Desai will join the company in August of this year. Desai currently serves as Producing Artistic Director of L.A.’s historic East West Players (EWP), where he has led the company since 2016. His first public appearance as the incoming artistic director will be at Center Theatre Group’s “Light Up Los Angeles” Gala at the Mark Taper Forum this Saturday, April 15.

In 2021 — after Artistic Director Michael Ritchie announced his departure — CTG engaged ACG to partner on the widest and most equitable search possible for a new artistic director. They began with an exploration and alignment of the company’s mission and values, including dialogue with internal and external stakeholders, and comments and perspectives from more than 800 individuals who participated in written surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one conversations. The results were distilled into a detailed job description, including the core competencies and qualities needed for CTG’s next artistic director to succeed.

In August of 2022, CTG shared the artistic director profile widely in partnership with ACG and opened the application period for candidate submissions. Over 100 applications were received, of these, about 30 applicants were interviewed, sending more than a dozen qualified candidates on to the CTG Search Committee. After speaking to each of these candidates, semi-finalists, and, subsequently, finalists were chosen from the group of applicants. The finalists spoke extensively with ACG, the Search Committee, and multiple groups of stakeholders within the Center Theatre Group community. In March of 2023, the Search Committee met to deliberate and make their recommendation to the Board of Directors, who in turn voted unanimously to appoint Snehal Desai as the company’s next artistic director.

​​​“Center Theatre Group is a cultural force in the American theatre, and I am honored to be its next artistic director. CTG’s vibrant legacy has been built by being the home for the preeminent theatrical artists of our time and the next great American play. I am humbled by the opportunity to enrich that legacy by uplifting and centering the diverse and thriving communities that comprise the beating heart of Los Angeles. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that comes with the rarest of gifts for an Angeleno — an even shorter morning commute,” said incoming Center Theatre Group Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “I look forward to working with Center Theatre Group’s board, artists, staff, and patrons in ensuring that CTG is a vital, timely, and relevant cultural home for all of Los Angeles.”

Desai is no stranger to Center Theatre Group audiences, and a longtime admirer of both the organization and the artistic vision established by Founding Artistic Director Gordon Davidson. During his tenure at East West Players, Desai helped shepherd “Soft Power” at the Ahmanson Theatre and the recent “Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, both co-productions with CTG. In addition, Desai has worked closely with many artists who have also called Center Theatre Group home throughout the years. He is looking forward to honoring the institution’s past while also leading it into a new era. As Berman noted, “In his meetings with the Search Committee, the Board, and members of the Center Theatre Group staff, Snehal articulated a vision that is firmly grounded in the type of entertaining programming CTG has become known and celebrated for, while also presenting a well-rounded scope of new programming ideas that will appeal to a broad range of audiences and across all three of CTG’s unique stages.”

“I couldn’t be more excited that Snehal Desai has been tapped to lead Center Theatre Group into its thrilling next chapter,” said Playwright David Henry Hwang. “Having worked with Snehal as Literary Manager during East West Players’ excellent production of ‘Chinglish,’ and most recently as a co-producer of ‘Soft Power,’ I am deeply impressed by his intelligence, artistic voice, expansive vision, and kindness. Snehal will be a transformative artistic director for Center Theatre Group, one who knows that true artistic excellence will not be achieved until all have equal opportunity to rise.”

Larissa FastHorse, an L.A.-based playwright whose “The Thanksgiving Play” opens on Broadway on April 20, and whose world premiere play, “Fake It Until You Make It,” will close out the Mark Taper Forum season in August, could not agree more. “I’m thrilled with the choice of Snehal to lead Center Theatre Group,” she said. “His history of championing a wide breadth of voices, like mine, as well as giving new life to classic work, is an exciting vision for the premier theatre company of our beautiful city.”

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