Biography + programmatic history
Robb Woulfe’s experience in the arts and entertainment industry extends over 25 years, having held positions in the public, nonprofit and commercial sectors. Recognized as a cultural entrepreneur and curator of ideas, spaces and talent, Robb has helped transform organizations and animate communities through exhilarating, high-impact arts experiences, using big thinking and inspirational storytelling as a way to increase audiences, build profile and strengthen support.
Based in Denver, Robb provides consulting and project management services for a variety of cultural planning, placemaking and public art initiatives. He also frequently presents on topics related to invigorating and activating public spaces through art, and using innovation and creative practice to build vibrant, livable cities. Currently, he advises on a number of large-scale, public-facing projects and curatorial programs, working with national clients and partners that include Park City Municipal, Sundance Institute, Kimball Art Center, and others.
More recently, Robb served for five years since 2014 as founding president and CEO of Breckenridge Creative Arts (BCA), an umbrella organization that works to leverage and grow creative assets and resources throughout Breckenridge, Colorado, one of the top mountain resort destinations in the world. In this capacity, he was responsible for providing vision, leadership, curatorial oversight and management expertise in the areas of program development, financial planning, fundraising, operations, marketing and public relations.
During his time in Breckenridge, Robb led many ambitious and landscape-changing initiatives that included: conceiving and launching a series of innovative festivals and exhibitions, including the signature annual events of the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts and WAVE: Light + Water + Sound festival; developing a year-round multidisciplinary presenting program featuring performing arts, lectures and films; spearheading the opening and activation of the Breckenridge Arts District, a downtown arts campus and creative learning center; designing an artist residency program for global creatives working at the intersection of art and social impact; and introducing a fresh, reimagined public art program, serving now as a model for municipalities around the country. His producing work in the market includes numerous North American premieres, site-specific commissions and interdisciplinary collaborations.
Additionally, Robb’s leadership at BCA brought about a number of honors and accolades, including earning Breckenridge the top ranking in the U.S. Arts Vibrancy Index for small communities; securing multiple grant awards from the National Endowment for the Arts; receiving a state-certified creative district designation for the town; winning the prestigious Colorado Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Tourism Initiative; and being featured in the Public Art Network Year in Review, the only national program that specifically recognizes the most compelling public art in America. His work also successfully garnered media coverage in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Jetsetter, Atlas Obscura, Town & Country, Curbed, Thrillist, and other leading travel and lifestyle publications.
Robb was recruited for the Breckenridge position after having served as executive and artistic director since 2004 for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, an annual three-week celebration of arts, culture and community that is presented in partnership with the City of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan.
His decade-long stewardship of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival transformed the festival's scale and influence, elevating it to one of the leading multi-arts festivals in the country. Key accomplishments during Robb’s tenure include: growing and diversifying audiences, enhancing programs, broadening funding, renewing brand identity, and strengthening the organization’s infrastructure and governance. During his leadership, he produced some of the most successful and highest grossing seasons in the festival’s history, which included introducing dozens of national and international artists to the region.
Robb came to Ann Arbor having served as managing director for the Music Society at the Midland Center for the Arts in Midland, Michigan, where he presented a wide variety of events. Before Midland, he was programming manager for Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he worked on the multicultural planet Ordway season, Performing Arts Classroom educational series and the critically acclaimed International Children’s Festival.
Prior to returning to his hometown of Saint Paul, Robb worked in New York’s commercial film and television industry. He spent several years in the international licensing division of Jim Henson Productions, where he assisted with foreign and domestic character licensing. Previous to the Muppets, he was an assistant in the co-productions department of BBC Lionheart, an affiliate of BBC Television.
With a taste for blurring the boundaries of high art, popular culture and broad public entertainment, Robb brings a passion for multidisciplinary performance, outdoor spectacle, site-specific work and contemporary visual arts. Over the past two decades he has programmed leading artists and thinkers from around the world, with highlights including: celebrated dance companies Pilobolus, STREB Extreme Action, BANDALOOP, Rennie Harris Puremovement, MOMIX, Diavolo, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and legendary dancer/choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov; acclaimed stage director Ratan Thiyam’s Chorus Repertory Theatre of Manipur; puppet masters Teatro Hugo & Ines, Kawasemi-za and Erth; physical theater innovators Circa, Les 7 doigts de la main, FLIP Fabrique, Cirque Éloize, Gravity & Other Myths and Casus Circus; international street theater troupes Close-Act, Strange Fruit, Polyglot Theatre and The Dream Engine; and NPR humorists Ira Glass, David Sedaris and Garrison Keillor.
As a concert promoter, he has presented a variety of musical events, including: new classical artists ETHEL, Ahn Trio, Turtle Island Quartet, Maya Beiser, Steven Schick and Michael Ward-Bergeman; orchestral works by contemporary composers John Luther Adams, David Lang, Anna Thorvaldsdottír and Phil Kline; jazz performers Dianne Reeves, Esperanza Spalding, Diana Krall, Chick Corea and Trombone Shorty; Broadway luminaries Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin, Bebe Neuwirth and Savion Glover; cabaret and performance artists Sandra Bernhard, Taylor Mac, Neal Medlyn, Meow Meow and John Waters; and a long list of contemporary pop musicians that includes Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Al Green, Gladys Knight, Steve Martin, k.d. lang, John Hiatt, Chris Isaak, Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, Andrew Bird, Devo, Gilberto Gil, Cesaria Evora, Angélique Kidjo, Oumou Sangare, Habib Koité, Pink Martini, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Feist, Seu Jorge, Amadou & Mariam, Zap Mama, Calexico, KT Tunstall, Femi Kuti, Patty Griffin, Rhiannon Giddens, Rufus Wainwright, Ani DiFranco, DeVotchKa, José González, Django Django, The Revivalists, and many more.
Robb’s curatorial interest in innovative and cross-sector collaborations, particularly those at the intersection of media, technology and screen culture, has led him to present numerous interdisciplinary film/music projects including indie-pop duo Dean and Britta's 13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol's Screen Tests, composer Benoît Charest’s The Triplets of Belleville featuring Le Terrible Orchestre de Belleville and filmmaker Prashant Bhargava’s Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi with pianist Vijay Iyer, along with multimedia productions by Compagnia Teatro di Piazza o D'Occasione, Manual Cinema and DJ Spooky. In addition, Robb has commissioned and programmed many site-specific and digital media installations by international visual artists including Konstantin Dimopoulos, Thomas Dambo, Amanda Parer, Craig Walsh, Hiromi Tango, Giuseppe Licari, Tom Dekyvere, Cédric Le Borgne, Kaz Shirane, Edina Tokodi, Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena, among others.
Robb is a frequent speaker and panelist at numerous arts and culture forums including Arts Midwest, Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado Tourism Office, Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts. He holds a B.A. from Hamline University.