Shelley Quiala joined the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in August 2020 as Executive Director. During her tenure, Arts & Ideas produced its first-ever hybrid Festival, began offering programming in Spanish, increased the racial diversity of its year-round staff from 10 percent to 50 percent, and doubled its financial and programmatic commitment to Neighborhood Festivals in New Haven’s culturally diverse communities. Among the hundreds of local and international luminaries that have been presented during Quiala’s tenure are Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Dolores Huerta, Nachito Herrera, and Toshi Reagan. The efforts led by the Arts & Ideas board and staff since Quiala’s tenure began have been recognized and awarded by the Greater New Haven Chapter of the NAACP and New Haven’s Freddy Fixer Parade Committee.
Quiala came to the Festival from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she most recently served as Vice President in Programming, Education and Community Engagement. Under her leadership, the Ordway programmed and produced concerts, comedy, dance, and educational programming that reached more than 150,000 people annually. She worked with colleagues and community to grow the Flint Hills Family Festival over more than two decades as a national and international model. During her tenure at the Ordway, participation in school programming grew by more than 50 percent to reach more than 60,000 youth each year. Quiala also led major initiatives in bilingual programming and community engagement work that centered the narratives of Black, Indigenous and People of Color. She managed a statewide arts awards program for impact in the arts, championed socioeconomic access and led collaborations with universities, community centers, and school districts. Prior to her work at the Ordway, Shelley worked with Teatro del Pueblo, a Latinx theater company in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Quiala is currently an executive board member of Theater for Young Audiences, US division (TYA-USA). She is also a member of the board of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Connecticut Tourism Coalition, an advisory committee member to the Funny Asian Women’s Kollective (FAWK), as all-female AAPI collective committed to breaking stereotypes through comedy. Committed to reducing barriers to arts and educational participation, Quiala is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and recently co-led sessions to Michigan’s Presenters Network and APAP delegates on “Curating with Consciousness,” and led a session at ISPA (International Society for Performing Arts) titled “Whose Quality? – unpacking the cultural bias and context within the performing arts.” Additionally, she led a humanitarian and cultural delegation to Havana, Cuba, in 2022 that included engagement in the Havana Jazz Festival. Quiala graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a double major in Spanish and Performance as a Medium for Social Change.