Born in the 1950s in South Africa, Johann Zietsman grew up under the Apartheid regime and first got involved in the arts as a brass player in his high school band. This lead to his life-long passion for the transformative value and role of the arts in a community.
After serving in the military, he graduated as an architect, and Johann and his wife, Tharrie, moved to Ithaca, New York, where he completed a Masters degree in music.
After returning to South Africa in 1982, Johann started a 20-year career in various executive arts management positions, including a music school, two orchestras, an opera and music theatre company, a community arts centre, a large multi-theatre performing arts company, and a commercial communications company.
During this time he was actively involved in the political transformation of his homeland through pioneering work in the arts, resulting in recognition from Mr. Nelson Mandela’s government. As a volunteer, he launched and directed two community youth initiatives, which currently serve about 4000 at-risk children in townships.
Johann and his family moved to the United States when he was recruited in 2002 by the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), based in New York City. They moved to Mesa in June 2007, where he served as Executive Director of the Mesa Arts Center, and Director of Arts and Culture for the city of Mesa, Arizona.
In December 2009, Johann accepted the position of President and CEO of EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts, now known as Arts Commons.