Important NYSCA News from Katherine Nicholls and Mara Manus

Posted August 11, 2023





MARA MANUS, Executive Director

August 9, 2023

Dear NYSCA Grantees -

It is with very mixed emotions that I share that Executive Director Mara Manus will be leaving NYSCA at the end of the month!  On behalf of the NYSCA staff and Council, please join us in wishing Mara much success in her new endeavor. Mara will begin her next adventure soon and will be continuing to work in the field which she loves!  

As a born and bred New Yorker, the arts were indelibly imprinted on Mara from the youngest age. It was only fitting that she started her career in the movie business, eventually finding herself in the non-profit arts space. Prior to her tenure at NYSCA, Mara served as the Executive Director of the Public Theater after serving at the Ford Foundation as a Program Officer in Economic Development. Mara founded her consulting firm Manus + Co, where she oversaw the launch of cultural organizations such as the Arthur Miller Foundation, Playwrights of New York, and Southampton Arts Center, and worked with non-profits to devise effective strategies for leadership and organizational development. Mara then became the Executive Director here at the New York State Council on the Arts in September 2016.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to Mara for her leadership of the agency over the past seven years. Mara spearheaded transformative work during our strategic planning process which resulted in NYSCA’s rapid shift in orientation toward service to the field and improved access to NYSCA’s resources. This work laid the foundation for NYSCA’s new Mission and Values, which prepared our staff to be highly responsive to the urgent needs of the field during the pandemic. Mara’s fierce advocacy has elevated the recognition of New York’s arts and culture sector as a vital element of our lives and our economy. Funding during Mara’s tenure has grown exponentially, and projects commenced during her tenure will have impact for decades to come. 

Mara, we wish you much success in your future endeavors and we thank you for your exemplary leadership. On a personal note, it has been a privilege to serve as Chair of NYSCA throughout your tenure. You leave a staff of highly capable leaders positioned to continue to shape NYSCA for the future.  It is a testament to your successful leadership that NYSCA is poised to grow, thrive, and succeed for years to come.

Please see Mara’s letter below and join us in wishing Mara continued success in the field she loves so dearly.

Warmest Regards,



 Katherine Nicholls, Chair




Dear NYSCA Grantees –

As Katherine has shared, I will be leaving the agency at the end of August. As I look ahead to my next leadership role, it has been a profound honor and joy to serve the phenomenal arts and culture sector of New York under the exceptional leadership of Governor Hochul and her administration.  

I am immensely grateful to Governor Hochul and our State Legislature for their historic and unprecedented investments in our sector. Under their leadership, our arts sector experienced increased and profound recognition - affirming our state as a global leader of arts and culture. 

I applaud our NYSCA team, under the leadership of Megan White and Karen Welch – and previously, Abigail Young, for all that we have accomplished together, including a strategic planning process that launched new mission and values statements that truly embody and reflect the evolving needs of our field. This work and the high level of engagement and input from you, our field, resulted in the total overhaul of our grantmaking process to allow for greater access to our funds– fundamentally transforming our service to the full breadth of artists and arts organizations.  

I have been so fortunate to work alongside NYSCA Council Chair Katherine Nicholls, whose outstanding leadership, commitment, and insights have been vital to the steering of NYSCA since her Chair appointment in 2018. I know that she will continue to provide critical leadership and support during this transition.  

Throughout my tenure, I have been so moved by your warm welcome and your incredible work. In my time at NYSCA, I have truly experienced the depth and fulsomeness of the cultural treasures across our great State. It has also been so invigorating to experience the growing national recognition of the expansive role the arts play in our lives. What we know at NYSCA is that arts and culture are an essential part of our economic prosperity, a driver of individual health, and a critical cornerstone of our social fabric.

I am incredibly excited for NYSCA’s future and am confident that our field will continue to thrive under the superb leadership of our Council and staff. I look forward to continuing to experience your phenomenal work and witnessing the new heights to which it will soar.  

With immense gratitude always, 




Mara Manus

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