Remington appointed theater head at National Endowment for the Arts

Ralph Remington is going national.

The former 10th Ward City Council member has been named the director of theater and musical theater at the National Endowment for the Arts, a position that gives Remington oversight of grants to theater projects at the country’s biggest annual funder of the arts. He begins in March.

Remington said he’s most interested in getting envelope-pushing theaters connected with money. The economy, he said, has pushed some theaters into more commercial work while others have been forced to close.

“Where does the public go and where does the artist go for deeper and more textured conversations?” he said.

Though on a larger stage, Remington said he expects to be influenced by his four years on the council. Corralling neighborhood organizations and developers at its core isn’t all that different from getting theaters large and small connected with funding.

“It’s really the art of politics, to try to get the most people to be content with getting some of what they want,” he said. “Because what you learn very quickly is you never get all of what you want.”

The job also will be a homecoming of sorts for Remington, who is a Philadelphia native but graduated from D.C.-based Howard University. Much of his family lives on the East Coast, and he said he has a niece currently enrolled in Howard’s theater program.

It also is a return to Remington’s theater roots. Before becoming a council member, he acted at theaters throughout the country, and he was a founding member of South Minneapolis’ Pillsbury House Theatre.

“It’s really exciting,” he said about his move. “To have my particular interests and have this particular job — it’s a dream job.”

Remington represented the 10th Ward from 2006 through 2009. He also briefly considered a run for mayor.