Keri Putnam

Source: Sundance Institute

Keri Putnam

After more than 10 years at the helm Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam has announced she will step down later this year.

Board of trustees chair Pat Mitchell and vice-chair Ebs Burnough will jointly lead a search committee to find Putnam’s replacement.

“After an incredibly rewarding decade, and following the success of our first-ever online festival, I have decided it’s the right time for me to step down as CEO of Sundance Institute,” said Putnam on Thursday (March 25). “Leading Sundance through this volatile era in media together with such an impassioned team has been one of my greatest joys.

She added, ”I look forward to exploring new challenges and opportunities in my next chapter, and can’t wait to see the extraordinary Sundance team break new ground in the years ahead while maintaining their renegade, independent spirit.”

During her tenure the widely admired executive grew the Sundance artist development programmes and spearheaded the launch of initiatives to support artists seeking production, financing and distribution support, including Sundance Catalyst, which has raised $40m in equity and grant investment over the last eight years for independent projects.

Putnam and her team championed underrepresented voices by expanding and establishing programmes for artists of colour and artists with disabilities, and launched a fellowship to diversify critics covering the festival.

She also commissioned research on issues of equity and inclusion in media, including a 2012 partnership with Dr. Stacy Smith and Women in Film to study the barriers facing female-identifying artists. This provided impetus for the launch of Women At Sundance programme and helped Sundance achieve gender parity in its programmes, and became the basis for ReFrame, the industry-wide advocacy group for women in media co-founded by Putnam.

Under Putnam’s tenure Sundance Institute established a global footprint with festivals in London and Hong Kong, and Lab programmes across Mexico, East Africa, and the Middle East, besides the US.

In 2018 the Institute launched the educational and event-based digital platform Sundance Co//ab, which by 2020 was attracting a million users worldwide.

Sundance Institute founder and president Robert Redford called Putnam “a fierce supporter of independent creators”. He added, “Keri has been instrumental in seeing the Institute through a decade of transformation, while keeping a laser-focus on Sundance’s mission of preserving, discovering, incubating and encouraging independent artistry in all forms. We cannot overstate her impact, and we thank Keri for her invaluable service in support of independent artists.”