New leadership at Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts

Adam Banks and A-lan Holt are making the arts a core part of the learning experience.

Adam Banks, professor of education in Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, is the new faculty director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA). A-lan Holt, formerly the associate and then interim director of IDA, is the new director. Both appointments were made at the end of academic year 2018-19 and they are already working together to prepare for 2019-20 and beyond.

Photo of Adam Banks.

Adam Banks, Faculty Director, Institute for Diversity in the Arts. Photo by Michael Spencer

The Institute for Diversity in the Arts is a student-facing organization that trains and supports undergraduates in visionary arts leadership through stewarding the power of the arts toward social justice. IDA collaborates with student and professional artists to develop courses and public programming that work to empower difference, dismantle oppression and build more sustainable futures.

When asked about his vision for the next chapter of IDA, Banks responded, “A-lan and I are thrilled to continue the legacy of IDA from its founding through the work of our past directors.” He added, “The work of IDA is aligned deeply with the arts at Stanford under Vice President for the Arts Harry Elam’s leadership: when we make the arts a core part of the learning experience for everyone from students to staff to faculty, we are challenged to ask new questions and explore new possibilities. The role of diversity in the arts and IDA is an extension of this challenge.”

Two of those new questions being contemplated by the IDA leadership are, What happens to art and to work in the arts when we center the voices, spaces, traditions and imaginings of those who have been told they do not belong? What happens when our very definitions of what constitutes art and arts leadership comes from those communities?

As the faculty director, Banks will be responsible for the vision and strategic leadership of IDA, including its academic relationships within Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences, and all research programs and initiatives.

Holt will provide artistic leadership for the organization, supporting strategic partnerships, artistic initiatives involving visiting professional artists, as well as student outreach, programs and advising.

“I am an artist that came of age at this university; and it is an honor to continue serving artists who are doing the same at Stanford through IDA. I look forward to working with Professor Banks, building upon the work of former directors, Jeff Chang and Gina Hernandez-Clarke, and being an advocate for the creative wellbeing of underrepresented communities within the arts,” said Holt.

Photo of A-lan Holt

A-lan Holt, Director, Institute for Diversity in the Arts. Photo by Harrison Truong

“Because of the work of so many, IDA is a thriving program here at Stanford,” Holt continues. “As we celebrate 50 years this fall, we look back on the movements for racial justice that brought us here, and we prepare for the diverse arts leaders that are here today, onward and beyond.”

Banks is a professor of education in Stanford’s Graduate School of Education as well as a professor and faculty director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, an affiliate faculty member of the African and African American Studies Program, the Science, Technology and Society Studies Program and the Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity Program, all in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences. He earned his PhD at Penn State University and has taught writing, rhetoric and digital media at Syracuse University, and the University of Kentucky as well as serving as the 2010 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor at the University of Kansas. Banks is the author Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age and of the award-winning Race, Rhetoric, and Technology: Searching for Higher Ground. His most recent book is a collaboration with Keith Gilyard: On African American Rhetoric was released in 2018.

Before joining IDA in 2015 as the associate director, Holt earned a BA in comparative studies in race and ethnicity at Stanford and went on to be the youngest writer awarded a two-year playwriting residence at the Tony Award-winning Public Theater in New York. Several of her plays have been developed in the U.S. and Uganda. She was a Sundance Fellow and an SF Film Screenwriting Fellow in 2018. Holt’s artist book Moonwork was shortlisted for the Cornish Family Prize at the Melbourne Art Book Fair and resides in public and private collections around the U.S.