Jones succeeds Dan Sullivan, a co-founder of NCI, who served as director from 1999 to 2013. Sullivan will continue with NCI as a faculty member. Mark Charney continues as associate director of the program.
The annual Institute offers an intensive two-week workshop, designed for arts journalists, bloggers and critics looking to strengthen their skills. NCI is housed at the O'Neill's Waterford campus, along with the organization's National Playwrights, Music Theater, Puppetry and Cabaret conferences.
An influential Chicago critic and theatre journalist, Jones appears weekly on Chicago's CBS-2 news and on WGN Radio, and has been published in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Variety, the Washington Post and American Theatre Magazine. He has twice served on the drama committee for the Pulitzer Prize.
"I'm thrilled to be associated with a program, run with such care by the remarkable Dan Sullivan, that has trained so many great arts writers and critics," Jones said in a statement. "I hope to expand the scope of the program to include all kinds of arts criticism and entertainment reporting (everything from theatre to movies to food), reflecting the reality of the range now required of writers who specialize in culture, entertainment and the arts. But the honored traditions of the O'Neill will remain."
"Few figures in criticism command such respect as Chris Jones," O'Neill executive director Preston Whiteway said in a statement. "At the intersection of fifty years of new play development at the O'Neill and a fast-paced media age, Chris stands to chart a path for a new generation of theatre writers. I am thrilled to welcome him to the O'Neill family, as he ushers in a new era of the National Critics Institute." The 2014 National Critics Institute will take place June 28-July 13.