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New Averitt Center director to begin job May 1

Jamie Grady set to take helm

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New Averitt Center director to begin job May 1

Jamie Grady, a New York-based arts management consultant with past experience from Atlanta, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Zealand, is scheduled to begin work May 1 as executive director of the Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro.


Jamie Grady, a New York-based arts management consultant with past experience from Atlanta, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Zealand, is scheduled to begin work May 1 as executive director of the Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro.

The Averitt Center board recently voted to hire Grady after selecting him from 24 candidates who applied in a search launched last fall. Board members interviewed eight selected applicants before choosing three finalists.

All three spoke in open forums at the center’s Emma Kelly Theater, and those from out of town toured the Averitt’s facilities and visited organizations it partners with, including the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority and Georgia Southern University.

“The things that we like about Jamie are his energy and enthusiasm, his love of the arts,” said Jenny Foss, an Averitt Center board member and past president. “His entire career has been in building and reinvigorating arts organizations and fundraising.”

Grady’s resume identifies his consulting business as Independent Arts Consultants, based in New York City.

In 2016 he began serving, while a consultant, as administrative leader for the Long Island Youth Orchestra, which has been in existence 55 years. As a consultant to the New Jersey Ballet in 2014-15, he developed a fundraising plan and the organization’s first donor membership program.

 

Mercyhurst success

One phase of Grady’s career that reportedly impressed Averitt board members was his service, from 2012 to 2014, as executive director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture at Mercyhurst University in Eerie, Pennsylvania. There he rebranded the organization, produced several popular events and reduced the annual operating deficit from a starting point of about $250,000 to $30,000 in a single fiscal year, he said in his resume.

“That was important to us because all arts organizations have challenges,” Foss said. “Most of them are nonprofit, and they depend on public support and private support to be successful.”

In Ithaca, New York, from 1999 until 2005, Grady first served as managing director of a performance theater and then co-founded a nonprofit theatrical group. In 2011-2012, he lived and worked in New Zealand, doing national fundraising for a political party and for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

His previous experiences in the South were as managing director of Actor’s Express in Atlanta from 1995 to 1997 and development director of The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, from 1997 to 1999.

Grady has a master’s degree in arts administration from Lesley College, a bachelor’s in business management from Bentley College and a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. He has taught arts management courses as an assistant professor at three different colleges and universities.

He is only the second person hired to be executive director of the Averitt Center for the long-term. Tim Chapman, executive director from 2004, when the center’s Main Gallery and Emma Kelly Theater opened, left in mid-September 2016 for the job of manager of the Carrolton Cultural Arts Center in Carrolton.

“Tim did a wonderful job of taking the organization from its beginnings to the multifaceted arts organization it is today,” Laura Wheaton, president of the Averitt Center board, said after the three finalists were announced. “We are confident that our next director will take us the next step to becoming a regional arts institution for southeast Georgia.”

The other finalists were Bruce Marquis, also an arts management consultant with executive director experience, from Ashland, Kentucky, and Dawn Oliver, assistant director of donor relations at Georgia Southern University and previously an Averitt Center board president.

Carol Thompson, who retired in 2015 as director of Georgia Southern’s Performing Arts Center, has served as interim director of the Averitt Center since Chapman’s departure. Thompson took the interim role with the understanding that she would not be a candidate for the job.

Wheaton and Foss said they appreciate the work Thompson has done to keep the center moving forward.

 

Artistic footprint

Grady will be in charge of an arts center with an annual budget of about $1 million and four facilities in downtown Statesboro. The Center for Performing Arts, which includes ballet studios, a black box theater and a retail art shop, opened on West Main Street in 2015. The Roxie Remley Center for Fine Arts, with ceramics and pictorial art classrooms and studios for rent to artists, opened near City Hall in September.

"When I came to Statesboro to interview for the position, I was extremely impressed with the overall footprint the Averitt had downtown,” Grady said in an email Tuesday. “All of the center's spaces and program offerings are extremely impressive."

He said this shows that Statesboro has embraced the arts and arts education, which he finds very encouraging.

"From what I see there are many opportunities ahead for the Averitt, including expanding its programming geographically and hosting both regional and national artists of all genres,” Grady wrote.

The Averitt Center is now enrolling school-age young people for its summer day camps and planning for a new variety of after-school programs this fall.

 

Reception May 4

A reception for the public to meet Grady is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. May 4 in the Main Gallery. The reception will coincide with the opening of an exhibit by Texas artist Terry Moeller.

Thursday, May 4, will also be opening night for the 7 p.m. Averitt Youth Theater production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” directed by Bethany DeZelle and Eddie Frazier. The exhibit opening and reception are free. Tickets for the performance are $10 per person at www.averittcenterforthearts.com or at the box office.

"I am looking forward to working with the Averitt board of trustees, its staff and the community to help the Arts Center reach its full artistic potential,” Grady said.

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

 

 

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