Ralph Remington has been a founder of Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis, a company that continues to do fearless work.
He has been a Minneapolis City Council member, representing the 10th ward from 2006 to 2009.
For his third act, Remington is nurturing the stage nationally. The actor-turned-artistic-director-turned-politician has been appointed director of theater and musical theater at the National Endowment for the Arts. He starts his post March 15.
“I’m excited to get this call to serve,” said the Philadelphia native and Howard University graduate. “Whether it has been with the theater, as a public official or the three years I spent in the Army, any way you slice it, my life has been about service. This is a big stage to do it on.”
Remington flew to Washington last week for final interviews with NEA officials, including chairman Rocco Landesman. Remington learned that he had been hired this weekend.
He grew up, professionally, in the Twin Cities, where he moved after graduation from Howard. He founded Pillsbury House in 1992 and headed it until 1999.
He has acted on many stages, including memorably in “Dutchman” and "A Streetcar Named Desire," both at Pillsbury House.
He also worked for spells at the Media Artists Resource Center, which later merged with the IFP Minnesota, and at Washington D.C.’s Arena Stage.
At the NEA, he will manage the arts agency’s “grantmaking for theater and musical theater, as well as develop partnerships to advance the theater field as a whole, and lead large-scale theater projects such as the NEA’s new play development program,” according to the release.
“His experience is simply extraordinary,” Landesman said in a statement. “Ralph has worked as an actor, an artistic director, and an arts administrator at a wide range of organizations. And he has also worked on, perhaps, the most dramatic stage of all: that of local politics.”
Remington said that he is sad to leave the Twin Cities, where he met his wife, Mary, but is gratified to return to the arts.
“This gives me a chance to continue my passions in a major way,” he said. “This is perhaps the most exciting and one of the most challenging times in our history, and not just in terms of arts and culture. ...But we are also richer because we have all these new, creative voices piping up. It’s very exciting.”