Arts Manager Honored for Going Above and Beyond 

Two photos side by side: a headshot of Manon Manavit and a photo of her hoisting her trophy onstage at the awards, with a bright purple background

Since becoming the manager of our Community Arts program in 2022, Manon Manavit has put her own stamp on it—adding new performers and events and using the arts to take a fresh look at the challenges faced by our community.  

She booked a group called Theatre of the Oppressed to do an interactive performance on the housing crisis, for example, and invited the staff of our Law Project to share their experiences. She’s brought drama teachers to work with formerly homeless tenants in our supportive housing residences. This week she’s booked a festival of arts dedicated to the theme of community mental health, healing from shame, and normalizing neurodivergence.  

“I think the philosophy that’s been successful in bringing back audiences post-COVID is we don’t just sit and come up with ideas for how we want our season to look,” she said. Instead, she and her staff have pitch meetings with local artists and groups, then compare the proposals to a rubric of the arts program’s core values. 

“If we like an artist and they can’t directly voice where they fit in, we can work with them to come up with a successful event. It’s a process of developing and nurturing up-and-coming artists,” she explained.  

“We want every year to be different and be based on what’s happening in the community. We’re holding space for historically marginalized voices to be given priority for programming.” 

Manavit’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. This spring she was named to City and State Magazine’s Above and Beyond: Women list alongside power players like Brooklyn Library head Linda Johnson and Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, co-executive director of the State Board of Elections. 

“It was surprising because I’ve been in this position for only two years and this is my first nonprofit management role—so to be included in that list really motivates me to continue to be more dynamic and not hold back,” she said. 

The daughter of artists, Manavit has a background as an interdisciplinary artist and educator. As creative assistant to the founding choreographer of Cirque Du Soleil, she mounted productions in the US, Canada, and Mexico. She has written and directed original performance works, produced numerous festivals, artist residencies, and workshops, and participated in film, theater, and public art installations. She told City and State she draws on those experiences in her current role.   

“That identity as a director has been with me since I was 15, but I never thought of it as being limited to theater only,” she said. “If you’re a director, you direct energy, attention, resources.” 

You can explore Manon Manavit’s past works at and follow her on Instagram at @manonmanavit_art.