Duke Performances, which has been run by interim director Eric Oberstein since Aaron Greenwald departed at the beginning of 2019, has named a new permanent director at last.

Bobby Asher is the former director of programming at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut. The annual two-week summer festival brings together world-class performing artists from music, theater, and dance with idea-driven programming featuring scientists, authors, and other kinds of public thinkers.  

According to a press release, Asher brings “18 years of experience in arts leadership and programming” to Duke Performances. He has also worked as director of programming at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, where he developed a visiting-artist series, oversaw artist residencies, and launched an annual student-focused festival.

In all, Asher sounds like a good fit for an institution whose mission includes presenting, teaching, and building town-and-gown bonds.

“I believe that the arts have the power to enhance learning and transform communities, and that artistic practice should be integrated into every aspect of the university and its surrounding communities,” Asher said in the press release. “I’m delighted to explore the future of this great organization with the community that it serves.”

Like all local presenters, Duke Performances canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to present weekly livestream concerts in the interim.

Asher, who was hired after a national search, takes over from Oberstein on September 1.

Contact arts and culture editor Brian Howe at bhowe@indyweek.com.

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