Arts and Policy Work

As Principal at Transitions International, Michael Feldman provides strategic and engagement advice to local and international arts organizations. As a strategic advisor in the arts, Michael offers demonstrated ability to advance arts, scholarly, and policy goals by implementing innovative programs to energize partners and engage audiences. Over more than 25 years, he has persuaded diverse stakeholders to devote prestige, leadership, and funding to pursue common objectives in culture, policy outreach, research, and education. Skilled at communicating effectively and cultivating supporters, he has demonstrated success in implementing projects, developing budgets, and overseeing reporting and compliance.  He has experience engaging with the U.S. Congress, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on budget requests, funding allocations, and project oversight. Michael also curates and moderates policy discussions that investigate themes raised by theatre and other art forms. Michael is the Creator of the Theater and Policy Salon and a Helen Hayes Award Judge. The pilot season of the Salon launched on July 30, 2018 with a reading and panel discussion at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company featuring Swedish playwright Paula Stenström Öhman and her play dealing with violence in society, People Respect Me Now, in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden in Washington and the Swedish Arts Council. The Salon's inaugural "Who Gets to Feel Safe?" season featured Salons at Woolly Mammoth, Ford's, New Music Theatre, and NYU DC as well as collaborations with the Embassy of Sweden and the European Union. Earlier, he launched the Talk Tank series for Forum Theatre's 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons. He launched the Talk Tank series for Forum Theatre's 2016-2017 season, and again organized Talk Tank discussions to explore policy issues underpinning Forum’s 2017-2018 plays. Michael served as an Editorial Team Member at Createquity - a virtual think tank and online publication - through its sunset in 2017.   

Michael has been awarded successive District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) Fellowship and a HumanitiesDC grant for his work on theater and policy in the context of the Theater and Policy Salon. The Theater and Policy Salon has partnered with Mosaic and Shakespeare theaters and The George Washington University for virtual Salon events in 2020-2021. After launching its 2019-2020 season at New York University Washington DC (NYU DC) in cooperation with Ford's and Shakespeare Theaters, the Salon partnered with Studio Theatre, Theatre J, Mosaic Theater Company, the InSeries, and Arena Stage in 2020.  The Salon's inaugural "Who Gets to Feel Safe?" season featured Salons at Woolly Mammoth, Ford's, New Music Theatre, and NYU DC as well as collaborations with the Embassy of Sweden and the European Union. During the inaugural season, Michael moderated the February 13 Theater and Policy Salon post performance discussion on “Justice” in Criminal Justice at Ford's Theatre, following a nearly sold-out performance of Twelve Angry Men on February 13.  Over 120 audience members stayed after show for a policy conversation featuring experts and advocates in the area of capital punishment and criminal justice.  In April, Michael curated the Salon at NYU Washington on inequality and criminal justice in response to Mosaic Theater’s productions of Native Son and Les Deux Noirs.  In May, Michael moderated a conversation on role of story, music, and culture in resilience and response, connecting three current area productions: Arena Stage’s premiere production of Jubilee, Signature Theater’s Spunk or Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston, and New Music-Theatre’s Black Pearl Sings!  In 2017-8, Michael moderated the Talk Tank for Love and Information with Prof. Deborah Tannen, Ruy Teixeira, and Joie Chen at Forum Theatre in Silver Spring.  He also moderated the Talk Tank for Forum Theatre's production of The State at Mellon Rehearsal Hall at Woolly Mammoth Theatre with the playwright Alexander Manuiloff, Margarita Assenova (Jamestown Foundation) and Jessica Raven (Collective Action for Safe Spaces).  In May 2017, Forum Theatre partnered with the Center for American Progress Action Fund to host a Talk Tank Post-Performance Discussion at the Kogod Cradle at Arena Stage for Building the Wall.  Michael moderated another Talk Talk when Building the Wall continued its run at the Black Box theatre in Silver Spring, MD.  Prior to that, for repertory productions of Dry Land and What Every Girl Should Know, he moderated the Talk Tank conversation on women and girls empowerment in the domestic and international context.  


Michael is a former cultural attaché and diplomat whose experience bridges the arts, development, and public policy worlds. Michael was a director at PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief; a director for Europe and Central Asia at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; and professional staff of the Budget Committee of the U.S. Senate as part of a fellowship with the American Political Science Association.


At the US State Department, Michael served in Europe and Central Africa; he oversaw assistance for the Balkans; and he negotiated policy with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the G-7/8 process, and the European Union. Michael graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Economics and speaks German, Czech, French and Italian.




Strategic Advice in the Arts

Wesleyan University

Cultural Diplomacy

Arts Policy

Theatre and Public Policy