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Carolina Seeks a 'Czar' for the Arts

The University is looking for its first executive director of the arts – a position designed to provide oversight of performing arts programs at Carolina with an eye toward better coordination of several venues. The “arts czar” also is expected to be an important part of the fund raising and public awareness for the campus’s new Arts Common.

A search committee, headed by dramatic art Professor Ray Dooley and including arts faculty, university administrators, undergraduate students and community members, began reviewing 165 applicants for the position in May. That list was pared to four finalists by October. Dooley hopes the new director will begin work by summer 2005, ideally in time to lead the reopening of the renovated Memorial Hall.

Performing arts programs at UNC lost a key advocate in 2003 with the dissolution of Arts Carolina, an umbrella organization responsible for coordinating and publicizing arts events on campus.

“Arts Carolina was a terrific program within the College of Arts and Sciences and reporting to the dean of arts and sciences,” Dooley said. “As such, its resources came from the college, and when we were hit by the budget cuts of three years ago, the college’s first priority was to protect classroom institutions, and a number of very worthy programs took heavy hits.”

Dooley said that without the publicity Arts Carolina had provided, some undergraduate productions suffered. He also said the dramatic art department was “no longer as connected with our colleagues in music and studio art.”

“The difference with the executive director of the arts is this person will report not to the dean but to the provost,” Dooley said. In that way, the position’s “scope and sway will be much larger.”

The director will oversee programming in Memorial Hall, coordinate events among departments and serve as an advocate for the arts on campus and in the community. The director also will be responsible for fund raising and what Dooley describes as “branding of UNC performing arts.”

Perhaps the biggest job for the new arts director will be to oversee development of the Arts Common, a revamping of existing arts facilities on UNC’s north quad. The project includes a new music building; renovations to Hill, Person, Gerrard and Smith halls and Playmakers Theatre; and an addition to the Ackland Art Museum.

“The importance of student input into the process and of continued availability of venues for student performances have been stressed,” Dooley said. “It is important that students remain a very loud and clear voice as we move forward in this process. And they will.

“We are all extremely excited about this – eager to make it work and see the performing arts at Carolina get recognition and raise our profile on and off campus.”


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