The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey has split the duties of its executive director and hired the former head of ArtsKC in an expansion of its management team.
Harlan Brownlee, who recently stepped down as head of the regional arts council, is the new chief executive officer of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. In the newly created post, Brownlee will oversee marketing, development, finances and programming.
The group’s board also named its longtime executive director Tyrone Aiken to the newly created post of chief artistic officer. The post includes increased responsibility for design, direction and implementation of the group’s artistic, community and educational programs.
Aiken had taken both the operational and artistic leads at Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey for 11 years.
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“It will allow me to use the skill set that I’m very adept at … and spent my first 10 years here working through,” Aiken said.
Brownlee said he had left ArtsKC this summer with an eye on becoming more involved in arts education. ArtsKC has developed a cultural plan taking in five counties surrounding Kansas City and backed local artists and groups through its ArtsKC Fund.
“I didn’t know this opportunity was going to come along,” he said of his new job.
Brownlee’s hire follows a strategic plan by the group’s board that included an expansion of its artistic programming.
The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey formed in 1984 as the official second home of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
It brings a multicultural mission to making dance available to everyone. Its two annual symposiums, for example, are part of a five-year project to focus attention on diversity at local, regional, national and international levels.
It also sponsors annual local performances by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater or its junior company, Ailey II, and hosts dance camps for young people.