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Search For New Oregon Arts Chief Moves Forward

OPB | March 1, 2014 10:06 a.m. | Updated: March 3, 2014 1:56 p.m. | Salem, Oregon

The search has begun to replace Christine D’Arcy, who was dismissed last fall after 19 years administering Oregon’s Arts Commission and Cultural Trust.

Oregon is looking for someone who:

  • has relevant experience running a state arts commission
  • is grounded in the humanities and cultural preservation
  • would like to live in Salem
  • can live on $64,000 to $95,000 a year 

Results are in for a state survey that went out to stakeholders all over Oregon’s arts and cultural communities. The survey asked: What exactly does the state need out of its’ next arts and culture chief? Over 400 comments came back.

Arts & Cultural Trust Stakeholder Survey Results by aprilbaer


Sandra Burnett is executive director of the Salem Art Association. She shared with us what she wrote on her survey. 

“I think the important thing for the incoming executive director will be pulling everybody together, and finding appropriate transparency and a more democratic approach, perhaps, to provision of services. Oregon's a very diverse state. The person would need to spread a very broad umbrella and bring everybody together.”

Burnett also underlined the fact that the Arts Commission has many ways of helping out, but one of its most important functions is the operating support it provides for artists and arts groups.

We had fun reading results from the survey. Some of our favorite comments?

  • Outreach to beyond the I-5 corridor
  • A creative risk-taker
  • A comfort with diversity issues.
  • Experience working with advocacy groups

And then there was comment #52:

"It helps if you're tall.At 5' 10" I was expected to want to be a leader and know how to do it. ...You can be a shorter person, but be prepared to stand on the bar or keep standing up in the back of a truck as it's moving. I'm not kidding here.”

What’s your take on this? What kind of leadership is needed out of the state on arts and culture?  What kind of person should be hired for this job?

One final note: the legislature is considering a bill that would get the two agencies out from under the administrative control of Business Oregon, and house them in the Secretary of State’s office. It's hard to say at this point if it will pass. It’s in committee. In testimony Greg Fitz Gerald, a board member of the Oregon Cultural Trust, echoed some of the procedural and oversight concerns expressed by resigning members of the Oregon Arts Commission. But Trust board chair, Bob Speltz, asked lawmakers to resist the temptation to make a move right now.

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