Kenneth Foster

Director, Arts Leadership Program

Professor of Practice

  • Program:
    Arts Leadership
  • Division:
    Scholarly and Professional Studies
  • Expertise:
    Arts Leadership


Kenneth Foster, the director of the new Arts Leadership Program, is an acclaimed leader in arts programming. Before joining the faculty of USC, he was executive director of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) for close to ten years. The organization thrived under his leadership, benefitting from his dedication to nurturing long-term relationships with artists and growing YBCA’s audience base as a result of his commitment to making contemporary art accessible to all.

Foster has more than 20 years of experience as an arts administrator, curator, educator, and performing arts presenter. In addition, he has served as a board member for such prominent arts organizations as the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Dance USA, and Chamber Music America, among others. Prior to joining YBCA, he served as executive director of UApresents at the University of Arizona. Prior to directing UApresents, Foster served as professor and director at the Center for Performing Arts at Pennsylvania State University, as managing director at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center in Illinois, and as executive director at the multidisciplinary Town Hall Arts Center in Colorado.

In 2007, Foster received the Fan Taylor Award for Distinguished Service from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. The award honors individuals whose outstanding service, creative thinking, and leadership have had a significant impact on the profession of presenting. His first book, Performing Arts Presenting: From Theory to Practice, was published in 2006.