The new performing arts season has brought some significant changes in the leadership of the Boise Philharmonic, Ballet Idaho, and Opera Idaho. What do these fresh perspectives in leadership portend for these pillars of culture in Boise? We caught up with these new leaders—all of whom are grounded in performance as well as practical administration—and spoke with them about what they intend to achieve in their respective organizations.
Background: No stranger to the Boise arts scene, Welsh served as interim managing director for Boise Contemporary Theatre, and was co-founder of Alley Rep Theatre, Story Story Night, and Empty Boat Theatre. She is a Boise native and holds degrees in theater and creative writing from the University of Washington. She also pursued masters’ level studies in technical theatre from Boise State University. Welsh and her partner Nick Garcia have two children.
Vision: With her ability to create relationships and embrace diversity, Welsh intends to expand engagement between the Philharmonic and the community. “First, I want to make a meaningful impact with our musicians and encourage and attract players by taking care of them, financially and as an integral part of the organization. I want them to be the public face of and voice for the Philharmonic,” she said. “They are such interesting people, which humanizes the performance aspect. They add tremendous depth to the organization.
“Second, (music director) Eric (Garcia) and I are fervently committed to reaching out to the community, reaching people who have barriers to access, whether it’s not having the financial ability or physical access: people in nursing homes, those who are incarcerated, refugees … The best thing we can do is offer healing through the power of music!”
Nik Dumas, Artistic Administrator
Background: Singing has been an integral part of Nik’s life since he was 15. He joined the Opera Idaho chorus in 2006 and is also a chorister at St. Michael’s Cathedral in downtown Boise. During the choir’s residence at Winchester Cathedral in England in 2014, Dumas served as a financial and travel consultant. He worked as a travel consultant for Connexions Loyalty Travel Services for 13 years. He holds a degree in music from Boise State University and a masters’ degree in arts administration from the University of Kentucky. He and his partner Kevin have a daughter.
Vision: In this new position, Dumas works closely with General Director Mark Junkert coordinating artistic activities, programming, and special events. Dumas shepherded the Young Artist program into reality and now administers it. “It would not have happened without Nik,” said Junkert. “He listened to samples from over 200 applicants, and we settled on four artists from China, Sri Lanka, Canada and Alaska. Having this program helps position us to gain more national attention.”
“The idea is that once these young artists complete their time with Opera Idaho, they’ll further their careers and have a better idea of what it’s like to work with a major opera company,” added Dumas. “It’s energizing to be part of something that exciting!”
Garrett Anderson, Artistic Director
Background: Anderson comes to Ballet Idaho after dancing with a host of world-class companies: San Francisco Ballet, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Trey McIntyre Project, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago to name a few. He was appointed chair of the dance department at New Mexico School for the Arts in 2016. He and his wife Courtney Anderson, who will be coaching young dancers in Ballet Idaho Academy, fell in love with the synergy between Boise and its arts offerings. “Boise has a long history of supporting the arts, specifically dance,” he said. “When something of value happens in Boise, people pay attention, they’re proud of it and celebrate it.”
Vision: “I want our work to be experienced … engaging with our community in a way that draws people in and eliminates the proscenium, that fourth wall between the dancers and the audience,” said Anderson. “Part of the way we achieve that is through content, a blend of traditional classical and contemporary dance.
“I want to get outside of Boise—we’re Ballet Idaho, not Ballet Boise—and tour the state. I want to make a place where dancers can have sustainable lives, and I want to provide mentorship. Dancing is more than figuring out the steps: it’s a demanding process, both physically and psychologically, and I want to support those challenges. The Academy is a big part of the organization, and I want our young dancers to learn the skills required to work in a professional setting. We attract the caliber of dancers who have that potential!”