Indira Etwaroo, producer, scholar and non-profit arts leader, has worked with institutions and artists across the country and the world. Indira’s passion is exploring the complex intersections between community, performing arts and the topics-of-our-time, leading to models of diverse artistic excellence and sustainability in the 21st century. Indira has received many awards and honors for her work, including being named one of the “40 under 40” national leaders by The Network Journal.
Dr. Etwaroo joined Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in 2015 to provide the vision, strategic direction, fundraising leadership, management and partnership expertise for one of Brooklyn’s cultural anchors, as well as to oversee a reimagining of the historic Obie and AUDELCO Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre. Within her short tenure, Indira has completed a multi-million dollar renovation of the theater, converted over 6,000 sq ft of ground floor space into essential rehearsal space where hundreds of artists can build new works and millions of Brooklyn community members can now witness “art in motion”; and more than doubled audience and revenue in her three-year tenure. RestorationART has been a standard bearer for arts, social justice and community development under Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, which has the distinction of being the nation’s first community development corporation, founded in 1967 through intense grassroots activism and the personal initiative of then Senators Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Jacob Javits. Dr. Etwaroo has developed a partnership with Tom Oppenheim, Artistic Director of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting to create the first-ever Black Arts Intensive with the founders Stephen McKinley Henderson, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Michele Shay, Sonia Sanchez and Phylicia Rashad for university students across the country, held at The Billie Holiday Theatre.
Dr. Etwaroo was the Founding Executive Producer of the multiplatform, state-of-the-art Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at New York Public Radio, the largest public radio station in the nation with a reach to millions weekly. In 2006, she was charged with creating New York Public Radio’s first-ever live broadcast studio in Lower Manhattan to bring audiences face-to-face with dynamic content on multiple platforms: live, on air and online. Of note, she conceptualized and executive produced the first-ever seminal recordings of all ten plays in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle (2013) in partnership with Constanza Romero, August Wilson’s widow and Executor of the Wilson Estate with Artistic Directors Ruben Santiago Hudson and Stephen McKinley Henderson; the American Radio Broadcast Premiere of Their Eyes Were Watching God narrated by Phylicia Rashad (2012) and adapted by Arthur Yorinks; and the breakout Talent Quest Series, Battle of the Boroughs, which excavated hundreds of musicians from all walks of life from throughout New York City. The Greene Space now stands as an exemplary model to the national public radio system for reaching ethnically diverse and younger audiences through multiplatform content. Dr. Etwaroo joined NPR in 2013 as Founding Executive Producer and Director of NPR Presents to develop a national live events strategy to bring on air and online content to audiences across the nation, which debuted with the highly-successful national tour Water +, conceptualized by Etwaroo and directed by Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon. Etwaroo also worked with BAM’s Department of Education and Humanities, leading key programmatic initiatives from 2004 – 2006.
Indira has produced over a thousand conversations and events with noted artists, newsmakers, and changemakers from across the globe on timely topical issues from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 to a conversation/concert with Wyclef Jean to a talk with Broadway director and cast of Death of a Salesman – the late Mike Nichols and Philip Seymour Hoffman. She has also produced, choreographed and/or directed over fifty dance works and/or theatrical productions, receiving six AUDELCO wins in 2017 for The Billie Holiday Theatre’s New York Premiere of Richard Wesley’s Autumn, directed by Walter Dallas. She is also the author of scholarly articles and chapters used in universities across the country on the topic of performance and inclusion.
Prior to joining the non-profit world, Indira received her PhD in Cultural Studies and Masters in Dance Education from Temple University where she taught undergraduate and graduate lecture courses. She also received her BME in classical flute performance and education. Indira studied acting with Black Arts Theatre Pioneer Ernie McClintock and performed with his Jazz Actors Studio of Actors at the 1995 and 1997 National Black Theater Festival. Dr. Etwaroo was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2003 to conduct research in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a full year to explore the theatrical performance traditions that inform the controversial practice of female genital cutting. Dr. Etwaroo is married to award-winning actor Jerome Preston Bates and they have two daughters, Kyrsten and Zenzele. They reside in Brooklyn.