The president and CEO of the ArtsKC-Regional Arts Council has left the post after less than a year on the job.
The board of the council said Tuesday it has opened a national search to replace Bruce Davis.
“The board is focused on this wonderful time in Kansas City history for the arts,” said board chairman Brad Douglas. “We need a charismatic leader who can rally people from all the different parts of the arts community and build upon this time.”
The arts council serves as the umbrella fundraising and advocacy group for visual, performing, literary and other arts in the Kansas City.
Davis was hired late last January from the San Francisco Bay area, where he had been executive director of Arts Council Silicon Valley for 18 years.
Observers said that in Kansas City, Davis didn’t emerge as the right fit for the ArtsKC job, which Harlan Brownlee had held for several years. Brownlee now is CEO of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.
In a best-case scenario, Douglas said, the board would like to be able to announce a new CEO by the ArtsKC annual luncheon on Feb. 23, “but we will take the time necessary to find the right leader.”
“We’re pleased with a couple of things Bruce Davis did here, including making progress on a building a regional online portal for the arts,” Douglas said.
That portal is being designed as a one-stop-shop to provide calendar links and ticket access to all arts organizations in the metro area, a feature that many U.S. cities already have.
“The staff is continuing to work on that, and we want to make it clear that the board has nothing but wonderful things to say about the staff,” Douglas said. “We need to find a leader to effectively use their skill sets and convey their passions.”
The nine-person ArtsKC staff has weathered some turnover among its development, marketing and fundraising staff, and stemming departures of valued staff is important for the board, Douglas said.
The arts organization was founded in 1999 as the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City. It changed its name in 2013.
The ArtsKC board is working from a three-pronged strategic plan that focuses on promoting the arts in and out of town, supporting the arts through funding, and advocating for the arts at the public policy level.
Board members who declined to speak on the record said they unified in moving quickly to make a change and in putting a positive spin on the transition. They said Douglas, as chairman, was the official spokesman.
“I’m proud of this volunteer board,” Douglas said. “We felt like we couldn’t lose another 10 months, much less years.”
Douglas said the organization also will work to pump up local interest in its annual workplace-related fundraising campaign for the arts. The ArtsKC Fund was launched in 2007, a time when an America for the Arts survey said cities with such funds raised an average of $2.2 million a year.
The ArtsKC Fund campaign raised about $400,000 in 2007 and about $500,000 in 2016. It has distributed about $4.6 million in grants to about 800 arts organizations and artists in the metro area.