Jamilla Deria has been named director of the Fine Arts Center. The appointment of Deria, who comes to the Fine Arts Center from the Apollo Theater Foundation in New York, was made by Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs John McCarthy.
Deria succeeds Willie L. Hill, who retired from the position in February after serving nearly 20 years as director. She will assume her new duties in June 2019.
McCarthy said, “The Fine Arts Center has had only two directors in its long history, Fred Tillis and Willie Hill. I am confident that Jamilla Deria will continue their tradition of excellence, inclusion and service to the campus and the community.”
While at the Apollo Theater Foundation, Deria enjoyed a successful career bringing live music, theatrical and family entertainment experiences to American audiences for nearly a decade. In previous roles, she promoted marquee properties such as the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Blue Man Group and the Cirque du Soleil NY resident shows. She has also worked with some of the country's most renowned venues including Radio City Music Hall and The Beacon Theater.
Deria said, “I am thrilled to join The Fine Arts Center team and contribute to the center’s nearly 50-year legacy as a champion of artistic excellence, inclusion and access. As someone who grew up a few miles south in Hartford, Connecticut, I am a direct benefactor of the area’s rich arts community, from getting early work experience at New World Theater and the Ko Festival to attending many cultural programs and performances over the years. I understand the transformative power of the arts and its ability to impact lives. It is with great pleasure that I return to UMass, and I relish the opportunity to meaningfully support the arts community which helped shape me.”
Deria is also the founder of FeVA Productions, Inc., a non-profit theater company dedicated to supporting new works of emerging playwrights of color. Since 2015, Deria has produced the Women of the World festival (WOW). This partnership with London’s Southbank Centre presents performances, talks, mentoring sessions and debates that promote gender equality and celebrate the achievements of women and girls. The project reflects her belief that the arts should be in service to the community.
Deria earned her bachelor’s degree from Williams College and her master’s degree from New York University.