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Center for Arts Leadership convenes inaugural 'Leadership in the Arts Summit'

Conference will explore Houston’s arts ecology and plan for its future growth April 4 and 5

The Center for Arts Leadership will present on April 4 and 5 a two-day conference exploring the challenges of maintaining a vigorous creative community in Houston.

“The Leadership in the Arts Summit” will pose the question “What does it take to be a 21st -century arts community?” and showcase the insights of renowned artists and arts professionals. Panel discussion topics include philanthropy, community engagement and arts advocacy.

“Houston has an unusually collaborative arts ecology where artists, arts organizations and philanthropists work well together to launch and sustain arts initiatives,” said Sixto Wagan, director of the Center for Arts Leadership. “The Leadership in the Arts Summit asks how we can maximize on these synergies to be a model arts community for the rest of the nation.”

The Center for Houston’s Future will also use this inaugural event to publicly release its 2015 Indicator Report on Arts and Cultural Heritage. The report focuses on three regional topics – cultural organizations, funding for the arts and creative-sector employment.

The conference will be held in UH’s Athletics and Alumni Center (Entrance 15 off Cullen Boulevard).

“The Summit features three national speakers who have helped to re-shape the arts funding landscape over the past decade, influencing the distribution of over $100 million to the arts in the past few years,” Wagan said.

Those presenters are:

  • Maria Rosario Jackson, researcher for the Urban Institute study that led to the “Arts and Culture Indicators Project,” a project aimed at informing policymakers and constituents about the role of art and culture in their respective communities. Jackson also led the report “Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structure for U.S. Artists.”
  • Paul Bonin-Rodriguez is an artist, administrator, educator and researcher. He also served as an artist advisor to Leveraging Investments in Creativity, a 10-year initiative dedicated to creating new opportunities for U.S. artists.

“Together with local arts leaders as panelists and with the arts community as participants, we have the opportunity to look at some of the major trends that will affect the non-profit arts community in the next few decades,” Wagan said.

Local arts leaders who will present at the conference include:

  • Debbie McNulty, senior program officer for Houston Endowment
  • Sandra Bernhard, director of Houston Grand Opera Community Outreach
  • Ann Graham, executive director of Texans for the Arts
  • Glenn Taylor, chief marketing officer of the Houston Symphony Orchestra
  • Ryan Dennis, public programs director at Project Row Houses
  • Ashley Clemmer-Hoffman, community engagement director at Rothko Chapel
  • Gwendolyn Goffe, retired associate director of investment and finance at Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

“The Center for Arts Leadership is excited to bring the local arts community together to inspire each other, share questions that are re-shaping the way organizations think and function, and to promote short- and long-term actions that are based on equitable partnerships,” Wagan said.

For a schedule of panels and presentations at the “The Leadership in the Arts Summit” and to register for the free conference, visit the Center’s website.

- By Mike Emery