President and CEO
On January 20, 2020, Arts Commons board of directors announced the appointment of Alex Sarian, who joins Arts Commons after seven years of leadership roles at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.
Most recently, Mr. Sarian served as the fourth executive in Lincoln Center’s 60-year history to oversee its portfolio of social impact initiatives: community engagement, cultural innovation grants, artistic programming for young audiences and families, global consulting, and the institution’s famed education department. Under his leadership, and as a result of his commitment to increasing cultural participation, in 2019 Lincoln Center reached a first-of-a-kind milestone: building intentional and strategic relationships with residents in all of New York City’s 51 council member districts. During his tenure, he was also responsible for awarding more than $1.6M in grants to small- and mid-sized arts and culture institutions; and worked on projects in 15 countries spanning five continents.
Since 2013, Mr. Sarian has occupied a variety of leadership roles at the world’s most famous performing arts centre, including Director of Lincoln Center International, a department established to advise on cultural projects around the world; Founding Director of the Lincoln Center Cultural Innovation Fund, the institution’s first grant-making program in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation; and Director of Finance, Business Development & Operations for Lincoln Center’s education department during its award-winning rebrand and subsequent 200% growth.
He was also instrumental in designing Summer Forum, an annual conference that welcomed hundreds of artists and educators from around the world; the creation of Up And Away, the first immersive theatrical experience designed exclusively for audiences on the autism spectrum (for which he also produced a 360-degree film for distribution on virtual reality platforms); and the digital learning guides for “Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance” which received distribution in movie theatres around the globe.
Prior to his time at Lincoln Center, Mr. Sarian served as the Director of Education of the award-winning, off-Broadway MCC Theater, where he had the pleasure of working with a roster of acclaimed artists, including Theatre Calgary’s Artistic Director, Stafford Arima.
As a recognized authority on the civic role of arts institutions, Mr. Sarian has lectured and given workshops across the United States, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, and Spain. As a professor, he has designed and taught undergraduate and graduate level courses on audience development, business management, and arts education for New York University, Pace University, and City College of New York. Mr. Sarian has served on numerous governing boards, special advisory committees, and funding panels. He is currently a trustee of The New Group, an award-winning off-Broadway theatre company; an advisor to SXSW, one of the largest film, interactive media, and music festivals in the world; a philanthropic advisor to Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (Argentina); and was the second arts professional to be invited to serve on the selection committee for the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, an annual US$1M award to an outstanding educator.
Originally from Toronto, Mr. Sarian lived in Buenos Aires for fifteen years, where he had the privilege of performing in venues such as the Teatro Colon Opera House, before moving to New York City in 2002 to pursue a career in arts management. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from New York University, and was an inaugural graduate of the Impact Program for Arts Leaders at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
Mr. Sarian currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Aliza, a classroom teacher and arts education specialist, and their two rescue dogs, Olive and Pickle. Mr. Sarian will be officially joining Arts Commons in May, 2020.
You can read our official media release regarding Mr. Sarian's appointment here.