Little Rock Soiree

Women to Watch 2014

Karen Bassett

Executive Director, Ballet Arkansas

Facebook: BalletAR • Twitter: @BalletArkansas

Ballet Arkansas is the state’s only professional ballet company. Our mission is to bring world-class dance performance to audiences all around the state. After having been involved with Ballet Arkansas as a member of the board of directors, cast in “The Nutcracker” and on the spring gala planning committee, I am delighted to now be serving as its executive director. Along with Artistic Director Michael Bearden, I will be working to expand our company of dancers, performance opportunities and repertoire of both new works and ballet classics.


What are your goals for the future?
Increase contributions and sponsorships. Even the biggest ballet companies rely on these funding sources for more than half of their annual revenue. Ballet Arkansas has a wonderful artistic and strategic vision. We just need support from Arkansans to make it a reality.

What’s a fun fact about you that would surprise people?
I am vacationing through the book “Great American Mansions.” It’s a wonderful journey through architecture, design, American history and the lives of some influential citizens. Favorites to-date include Jefferson’s Monticello, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside and Vanderbilt’s Marble House.

Knowing what you know now, what’s the best advice you could have given yourself when you were first starting out?
You have very good instincts; follow them! You will get into trouble when you try to rationalize them away.

What has been the greatest moment in your career?
Learning that my former staff would often ask themselves “What would Karen do?” when faced with tough decisions. It’s so gratifying to think I still have an impact years beyond my tenure.

What is your best personality trait?
Being Southern. While living in Pennsylvania, I can’t tell you how many times I was asked to bottle and sell “Southern.” It truly is an asset and a trait to be cherished and nurtured.


Restaurant: Faded Rose, Sushi Café and most any Mexican place
Song: “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, “Unwell” by Matchbox Twenty, “Boston” by Kenny Chesney, “1,000 Things” by Jason Mraz, “Chances” by Five for Fighting and any Cole Porter song
Book: Wuthering Heights and anything by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Gadget: iPod and yard tools
Vacation Destination: London – I had a magical trip there with my son Jason and I love all things Tudor!