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Lensic director resigns; nationwide search planned for new head of Santa Fe performing arts center

SANTA FE – The man who has been identified with the Lensic ever since it was revamped as a nonprofit performing arts center has resigned.

Robert Martin, who has directed artistic programming and operations at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe since its reopening in 2001, plans to depart by the end of this month, the board of directors announced Wednesday.

A nationwide search will be launched to find his replacement.

With the 15th anniversary of the Lensic’s current iteration coming up in April, Martin told the

Journal he felt it was time to explore other things. “It’s time to make a break,” he said, adding that he is staying in Santa Fe and will help with the transition.

He said he has no new project in mind for himself but is taking a “leap of faith” and is open to anything that might come his way.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we accomplished here,” he added, mentioning that he thinks the Lensic, its board and staff are in a “good place” right now.

While providing a venue for touring national and international acts, Martin also made the stage available to local performers during his tenure, showcasing traditional New Mexican music in “Nuestra Musica” and creating performances with lineups of local bands of other musical genres.

He also developed an “Under Construction” series that presented readings of plays by local writers, such as “The Queen of Madison Avenue,” written by Ron Bloomberg and starring Ali MacGraw in the title role.

“Bob opened the doors of The Lensic to the entire community on day one, sending the message, ‘We are here for everyone,’ ” said Nancy Zeckendorf, Lensic chairwoman and founding director, in a news release. “He continued to invite local community groups to use the theater for what they could afford, at the same time helping them present their programs in a professional manner.”

Martin was credited with establishing quality standards for artistic excellence, developing community outreach and education, and creating an original performance series that features innovation and cultural diversity.

This year’s series, for example, includes Goeff Hoyle’s “Lear’s Shadow,” in which he presented Shakespeare’s King Lear from the Fool’s point of view, and Creole Carnival with performers from Haiti, Brazil and Jamaica.

Martin also stepped on stage himself at times, most recently reading the role of Mark Twain in a locally written imagination of Twain meeting up with William Shakespeare, and also joining others in reading holiday stories and poems at Collected Works Bookstore.

Before moving to Santa Fe, Martin lived in San Francisco, where he managed and directed programming for the Cowell and Bayfront Theaters at Fort Mason Center, according to a written summary of his background. He also was producing director of the People’s Theater Festival in San Francisco.

“We have all enjoyed the imaginative programming Bob has brought to The Lensic,” Zeckendorf added. “He has made many friends here, and we will miss him. We wish him the very best.”

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