Lucy Sexton, executive director of The Bessies, the New York award honoring excellence in dance and performance, has stepped down from the helm of the organization to pursue new creative projects and to expand her work in cultural advocacy. She will assume an advisory role with The Bessies until the end of the month. Michele Thompson, who has has previously held positions at The 92nd Street Y, Trisha Brown Dance Company, and Carnegie Hall, will serve as interim executive director throughout the search for Sexton’s replacement.
“It has been a great honor and joy to serve as executive director of The Bessies,” said Sexton. “I’ve been involved in New York dance my entire life and want nothing more than for the dance communities of this city to be recognized and strengthened. I am thrilled that the work of The Bessies will continue with my invaluable Bessies collaborator Heather Robles, and the esteemed Michele Thompson.”
During her leadership, Sexton helped The Bessies become an independent organization serving New York dance throughout the year. She increased the size of the selection committee so that it could better recognize the wide range of dance happening in New York City; established partnerships with organizations including the American Dance Festival, CUNY Dance Initiative, and the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography; initiated open roundtable discussions for dance artists and presenters; and introduced the Juried Bessie Award, the Bessies Presenter Award for Outstanding Curating, and the Bessie Angel Award.
Commenting on her tenure, The Bessies’ steering committee chair Martin Wechsler said, “Throughout her ten years as the executive director she expanded the scope of The Bessies to recognize all genres of dance and performance, while remaining true to its ‘downtown’ dance roots. She created new opportunities to support and lift up artists, and she brought The Bessies more powerfully into the public eye.”
Prior to joining The Bessies in 2009, Sexton worked as a choreographer, performer, director, and producer across the fields of dance, theater, and film. She will now be working full-time as the executive director of the cultural advocacy coalition New Yorkers for Culture & Arts, which advocates for increased funding and improved public policy to support culture in the city.