BAAY is thrilled to announce our new Artistic Director, Kaleb Van Rijswijck! In his new role, Kaleb will oversee the development and delivery of BAAY programs. They will coordinate our onsite classes and productions, oversee and support program staff, help care for the facility, and engage with the BAAY community. Kaleb will direct a significant portion of BAAY productions, which will allow him to personally connect with our students and families.
Kaleb has worked as BAAY’s Technical Director for the past year and, in that time, created multiple immersive sets and lighting designs for BAAY shows. While current families already know him in that role, many may not know that, years prior, Kaleb was also a BAAY student!
“When I was growing up in Whatcom County, there was little opportunity for youth in theatre. At the time, art funding was limited and school-based theatre programming was not abundant. I was introduced to BAAY in 2006 when it was still in its early stages. The building we know and love today was a humble open warehouse with some black curtains, a couple of lights, and a dream. It was not much, but we took such pride in the art that was created in that space. From that moment on, I swore to myself that, wherever life takes me, I’m going to make a point to return to Bellingham and invest that same creative energy back into my community.”
Kaleb was a student at BAAY between 2006 and 2011, taking part in numerous productions, including Little Shop of Horrors. He returned to work at BAAY as a show director and instructor from 2012-2014, directing The Music Man, 13: The Musical, and others. Having spent so many years in theatre already, they were keen to pursue their passion for the art.
“I was fortunate enough to go on and continue my collegiate career at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, perform on stages all over the country, collaborate with some of the most inspiring individuals, and utilize my experiences to develop a strong creative identity.”
When COVID hit in 2020, it redirected Kaleb’s trajectory, as it did for so many people.
“When the world shut down, it became apparent that I was called to return to Bellingham and focus on my priority needs. In doing so, I was given the opportunity to rekindle my connection with BAAY, a place that had lit the creative flame in me all those years ago. When the opportunity for Artistic Director arose, it felt like kismet.
Stepping into the position of Artistic Director feels like a full circle moment. My goal is to continue to uphold the BAAY values of creativity and collaboration, while also utilizing my lived experience and perspective to approach growth in a strengths-based mindset.”
Here at BAAY, we are excited to see Kaleb step into his new role as Artistic Director! Their deep experience in theatre, long history at BAAY, and recent work makes them incredibly well suited for the role. Congratulations, Kaleb! If you’d like to extend a congratulatory message, or if you have any questions for Kaleb, feel free to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.