REDCAT names a new leader: curator and writer João Ribas


REDCAT has hired curator João Ribas, known for his work in visual art and media, as the new executive director and vice president for cultural partnerships at the key downtown Los Angeles space for boundary-pushing music, theater and dance.

The California Institute of the Arts, which manages REDCAT, announced the appointment Tuesday. Ribas succeeds Mark Murphy, the founding executive director of the performance space formally known as the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater, which opened in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in 2003.

Ribas was selected through a nine-month search process and is expected to begin in June.

Ribas has recently worked as an independent curator and writer. In 2019 he was the commissioner and curator for the Pavilion of Portugal at the Venice Biennale and curator of a photography exhibition at the National Gallery of Kosovo. In 2018 Ribas was the director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, Portugal.


Unhappy with LACMA plans for a new building and its permanent collection, the Ahmanson Foundation ends the art gift program it started in 1972.

Feb. 25, 2020

Ribas was born in Braga, Portugal, and emigrated with his family to New Jersey as a child. He lived in the U.S. for 26 years before returning to Portugal in 2014.

From 2009 to 2013, he was the curator at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, and from 2007 to 2009 he was a curator at the Drawing Center in New York. Ribas also has taught at Yale University, Rhode Island School of Design and the School of Visual Arts in New York. He won International Assn. of Art Critics awards for four consecutive years starting in 2008.

“João brings a deep practice of working directly with artists on presenting new work and has been a great champion of free expression and diversity, values made important to him from his own experience growing up as an immigrant in Newark, N.J.,” CalArts President Ravi Rajan said in the announcement.

Ribas said he was drawn to REDCAT’s reputation “as a multidisciplinary center for innovative visual, performing and media artists as a place for experimentation.”

CalArts, he added, “has this legacy and this pivotal role in fostering creativity. That combination to me was always something that was really intriguing and inspiring, and I kept coming across it over and over in my work over the years.”

As executive director, he wants to continue expanding on what the institution “has been doing for 17 years, but doing it while keeping true to its values and to the values of CalArts.”


Diversity is one particular focus, Ribas said, “which starts with students and artists and expands out to the broader community to introduce to them influential developments in culture and the arts from around the world.”

CalArts said associate director Edgar Miramontes, who served as REDCAT’s interim leader, has been promoted to deputy executive director and curator.

“A lot of us are still trying to break free from ... the colonial mentality of what a Filipina should be,” says an organizer of “Burlesque Las FilipinX.”

Feb. 20, 2020