Trinity Repertory Company appoints director of community engagement

PROVIDENCE – Trinity Repertory Company has hired Michelle Cruz as director of community engagement, a position that has been elevated to a senior management position as the theater group steps up its community outreach.

Cruz, who has extensive experience working with local nonprofits and arts-related groups, will be responsible for establishing long-term partnerships between the theater and the community and will play a critical role in the theater’s artistic, educational and community-centered initiatives.

A national job search attracted more than 70 applicants.

“Michelle stood out in a number of ways,” Associate Artistic Director Tyler Dobrowsky said in a news release. “First, her warm, considerate, determined personality made her a very attractive candidate for a position that is all about forming crucial partnerships with other community organizations. We wanted a director who could comfortably reach out to the community in ways that felt openhearted and authentic. Michelle has that in spades – she is clearly someone people take to, trust and want to collaborate with.”

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Cruz will take over producing the theater’s annual event “America Too.” She will also lead the Prologue program, the 30-minute dialogue before each of the season productions, and organize Trinity Rep’s Context & Conversation series, in partnership with the Providence Public Library. Cruz will also take part in helping to select the plays the theater produces and to plan the long-term strategy of the theater.

Before joining Trinity, Cruz had worked for various local organizations and institutions such has Farm Fresh Rhode Island and Brown University, as well as co-curating the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy’s Burnside Music Series and volunteering for other community groups.

She is also a musician who has opened for such acts as The Roots and performed at Newport Jazz Festival founder’s “George Wein and Friends,” according to Trinity. She has more than 10 years of experience teaching music and workshops around Rhode Island, including at the Newport Museum, Rhody Center for World Music and Dance and the Pawtucket Armory, Trinity said.

She also served as a Trinity receptionist from 2004 to 2007.

“My passion for the arts, not only as a performer but an arts advocate, drives my work in the community to bring access and connectivity to those, especially, who do not feel like the arts are ‘for them,’ ” Cruz said in a statement. “I was elated to be chosen as the director of community engagement, as I want to open doors and experiences to the many faces in our community as we work together to be a catalyst for change through the power of the arts. I am so proud to join the Trinity Rep family in this capacity and look forward to what is to come.