Art News

Americans for the Arts Begins Leadership Succession Planning

The Americans for the Arts’ Board of Directors announces the organization’s next phase of transformation as it focuses on its service to the arts and culture sector. A CEO selection committee has been formed to commence a national search to find a successor to the current President & CEO, Nolen Bivens. Americans for the Arts board members Torrie Allen, President and CEO, Arts Midwest, and Kristina Newman-Scott, Inaugural Executive Director for The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at New York Public Radio (WNYC & WQXR), are Co-Chairs of the search/selection committee.

In 2021, Americans for the Arts’ Board of Directors appointed Nolen Bivens as President & CEO to lead the organization for transformational change of structure and strategy post the COVID pandemic. Bivens will complete his tenure in June 2024.

“We greatly appreciate General Nolen Bivens’ service to Americans for the Arts,” said Board Chair, Edgar Smith. “With his expertise in organizational strategy, Nolen set Americans for the Arts on firm ground to serve the arts and culture community as the sector’s national service organization. Following an extensive strategic realignment plan with the field, Nolen helped us transform the organization to have an immensely impactful mission-centric approach to work with our members and partners, propelling us toward a future where the arts are equitably at the center of our communities. We are truly excited about the future of Americans for the Arts and the continued growth of the organization.”

Since 2021, Bivens led Americans for the Arts during an unprecedented time when 63% of artists experienced unemployment, 99% of arts organizations had to cancel events or suspend operations, and the percentage of job losses at nonprofit arts organizations was five times worse than the average nonprofit.

His strong leadership and unwavering dedication navigated the organization through a Strategic Realignment Process (SRP) in service to the field, with a resulting focus on equitable advocacy, research, communications and convenings accomplished in partnership with, and service to, the nation’s local arts agencies. During his tenure, he invested in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 Study (“AEP6”), the first research of its kind to examine the role of the BIPOC arts community. Bivens also originated partnerships and launched initiatives with national racial justice organizations and multiracial thought leaders to further advance and democratize Americans for the Arts’ policy and advocacy agenda.

Considering the upcoming 2024 elections, the organization’s milestone 65th anniversary, the national convention in 2025, and the country’s semi-quincentennial celebration in 2026, a leadership succession is timely to continue the organization’s onward momentum.

“It has been my honor to lead Americans for the Arts these past few years,” said Nolen Bivens. “I have government, local arts agencies across the country, and countless others who help make the arts a part of our everyday lives. The arts are a national asset, and I am proud of the work that Americans for the Arts has done to ensure everyone can experience the arts throughout their lifetime.”

Americans for the Arts will provide monthly updates on the interim plan and national search process for its next CEO.

Media contact:
Mariaesmeralda Paguaga,
VP of Strategic Communication
[email protected]

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