Wes Jackson, a music business entrepreneur, will be the next president of BRIC, the nonprofit arts organization announced Tuesday. He will begin his new role July 18.
He succeeds Kristina Newman-Scott, who led BRIC for three years, and guided it through the first year of the coronavirus pandemic before stepping down last August.
BRIC presents cultural programming in Brooklyn. It is perhaps best known for its annual summer concert series, the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, at Prospect Park. This year, it includes free concerts by the reggae band Third World, the rapper Vic Mensa and the Nigerian Afropop artist Yemi Alade, as well as performances by the actor John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) and the comedian Bridget Everett (of HBO’s “Somebody Somewhere”).
Jackson, 48, who serves as the director of a business program designed for professionals in the creative arts at Emerson College in Boston, began his career producing concerts for groups like the Dave Matthews Band and the Roots before starting his promotions company, Seven Heads Entertainment, which he later expanded into an independent record label and management company.
In 2005, he founded the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, which has hosted performances by Jay-Z, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar, and he has served as the event’s executive director for 15 years.
“When you’re running a small shop, you’ve got your hands in everything,” Jackson said of leading the hip-hop festival. “Now I have people who can help, and I can dedicate my energy to thinking 10 to 20 years down the line, to turning Celebrate Brooklyn into something that rivals South by Southwest, Coachella.”
BRIC, which has a 2022 budget of $16 million to $20 million, will present a bigger stage. Jackson’s predecessor, Newman-Scott, led the reimagining of the organization’s annual music festival as a virtual event in 2020, as well as the start of One Brooklyn TV, which broadcasts educational programming on weekdays during the school year in partnership with New York City’s Department of Education.
Jackson said he wanted to continue to find ways to serve people in Brooklyn who may not be able to or want to gather in person, as well as those outside New York.
“What we’ve learned through Covid is that now we’re national and international,” Jackson said. “There’s a tremendous upside to raising that level of educational play for an online audience.”
Jackson, who grew up in the Bronx, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia and a master’s in Media Studies from the New School. He moved to Brooklyn about 25 years ago, where he has continued to live with his family while commuting to Boston.