New York University Abu Dhabi Appoints Bill Bragin as First Executive Artistic Director

Bill Bragin, Executive Artistic Director, The Arts Center, NYU Abu Dhabi, photographed in the Art Center at the Saadiyat Island campus.

Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has appointed Bill Bragin, a leading figure in music and arts programming, as the first executive artistic director of the University’s Arts Center at the Saadiyat Campus.

Called "one of the most influential figures in the New York live-music business” by The New York Times, Bragin brings extensive experience, creativity, and his own unique, multidisciplinary vision to the role. Most recently, as the director of public programming of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, Bragin oversaw the popular Midsummer Night Swing and Lincoln Center Out of Doors festivals, two unique approaches to increasing public participation in the arts. He also helped set the artistic vision for the free weekly programs at the David Rubenstein Atrium, which opened during his tenure. At Lincoln Center, Bragin presented hundreds of artists from a variety of disciplines and commissioned and premiered numerous new works in programs attracting hundreds of thousands of audience members annually.

A key part of Bragin’s role at NYUAD will be to build and shape the public arts programming on Saadiyat. Bragin said: “I'm thrilled to join the team at NYU Abu Dhabi and help realize its ambitious vision of creating a global cultural center that serves the University's educational and cultural mission, while also reflecting the dynamic, cosmopolitan nature of the UAE. As a curator committed to developing and presenting diverse arts programming for diverse communities, the role offers almost limitless possibility. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a performing arts center that will become a beacon for the region and the world.”

Bragin is also active as a co-founding producer of the world music festival and service organization globalFEST, music advisor for the TED Conferences, and a member of the board of trustees of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP).

His unique, integrative approach to curation and the arts is renowned both in the arts industry in New York and worldwide. Bragin's significant experience includes previous roles as the director of Joe’s Pub, the influential cabaret at The Public Theater, and artistic director of Central Park SummerStage. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Haverford College with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, in which he focused on popular culture.

NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Chancellor Al Bloom said: “Bill’s phenomenal energy, extraordinary vision, and deep embrace of our global educational mission will provide our faculty, students, and the institution unmatched leadership in the performing arts. His appointment ensures the future of NYU Abu Dhabi’s vital impact on both Abu Dhabi and the world community.”

Serving as a jury member, advisor, or speaker for acclaimed conferences and organizations including National Endowment for the Arts, Center Stage, Mundial Montreal, Atlantic Music Expo, South by Southwest (SXSW), The MAP Fund, SouthArts’ Performing Arts Exchange, and SOCAP, Bragin has also been active in organizations such as WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo), the North American Presenters Network, and the Black Rock Coalition.

Hilary Ballon, NYU Abu Dhabi deputy vice chancellor, said: “At Lincoln Center and throughout his career, Bill Bragin connected art and people in joyous, creative, and popular programs. His commitment to public engagement and community connections promises to make the NYUAD Arts Center a hub of cultural activity for Abu Dhabi and the region as well as the University. Bill’s curatorial vision, combined with the magnificent theaters on the Saadiyat campus and the University’s intellectual resources, will ensure that the NYUAD Arts Center becomes a magnet of creativity and a unique destination.”

The NYUAD Arts Center, which will commence public programming next year, will consist of a variety of different spaces that can be used for thought-provoking music, dance, performance, film, and other arts events. The Center promises to become a cultural heart for the academic and local communities, showcasing student performances alongside international and regional productions.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.