Kimball Art Center selects new education director
Ryan Summerlin August 8, 2014
The Kimball Art Center has selected a new education director named Amy MacDonald.
After Jenny Diersen announced her departure from the position after eight years, the KAC staff and board found MacDonald, who had just moved to Pinebrook after living in Salt Lake City.
For nearly 20 years, MacDonald has run the nonprofit arts organization Brolly Arts, a nonprofit umbrella arts organization that supports local, independent artists by writing grants, securing performance and exhibition venues. Brolly Arts also collaborates with other arts organizations for special programs including dance, music and visual arts.
Robin Marrouche, executive director for the Kimball Arts Center, said the KAC is lucky to have someone with MacDonald’s credentials join the team.
"We did a nationwide search for this position because it’s so important, being one of the three pillars — Education, Exhibitions and Events — of the Kimball Art Center core," Marrouche told The Park Record. "We looked for an extraordinary candidate and we are delighted that not only did she have the degree of experience and expertise in the art world, but also an extraordinary background given with Brolly Arts.
"She had administration background," Marrouche said. "She has written grants and she started a nonprofit and has all the educational background that we could hope for. And she lives in this community."
MacDonald said she is excited to start this new chapter in her life.
"I saw a job posting at the Kimball Art Center and, having been newly remarried last year to the partner I always dreamed of and living in Pinebrook, the post caught my eye," MacDonald said. "I have tremendous respect for the Kimball Art Center. I feel it’s a cultural hub and a community connector. I kept looking at the job description and my husband, Bill, said, ‘Amy just send a cover letter and resume in and see what happens.’"
After meeting Marrouche and Kathy Kennedy, the KAC managing director, MacDonald felt a positive vibe.
"It’s healthy and progressive," MacDonald said. "I love that the intention of the KAC is about how can we better serve our community through arts and culture."
MacDonald’s first KAC assignment is to write the curriculum for EVA, the KAC’s elementary visual arts program. She will also be in charge of the art classes, A.R.T.S. (Academic Resources for Teachers and Students), art tours and the Young Artists Academy.
"I had the privilege of meeting everyone and I also like the board and staff like each other and they have a vision for the future of the community when it comes to outreach and unique focus of arts education," she said.
MacDonald said many roads have led her to this position.
"I feel that my life’s tapestry has been rather circuitous, but fabulous and very rewarding," she said.
She has worked at the Utah Humanities Council, in radio and danced internationally, however, as a child, she was steered toward medicine.
"Growing up in a medical family, I thought I was going to be a doctor," she said. "I remember being introduced to the Repertory Dance Theatre one summer and loving it, but when it came time for me to go to college, I went to Stanford and majored in human biology with an emphasis in child development."
While at college, MacDonald took a dance class from a woman who was a prodigy of Mary Wigman.
The late Wigman is known as one of the pioneers in modern dance expressionism.
"To this day I felt that I learned more about dance than anything I’ve done," MacDonald said. "I learned about taking my soul and brining it out into what we had to say and decided to dance."
After dancing overseas, MacDonald came to a crossroads.
"I was at that place where I saw the dancers and the administrators and ne’er shall the two meet," she said. "I reflected on an internship I did with the National Performance Network in New York, and found I could have a voice by blending ideas and giving opportunities to artists."
In 1995, MacDonald formed Brolly Arts in Salt Lake City.
"Brolly is a British slang for umbrella and the meaning is that it’s inclusive to all art forms and projects," she said. "We serve as a collaborator and as a fiscal sponsor to artists, and while I don’t have a curatorial responsibility, I can support the artists’ efforts without any liability."
MacDonald spent a year researching what was needed in the Salt Lake arts community before she decided to form Brolly Arts.
"At that time, we lost a lot of independent artists, because all the support went to established arts organizations and schools," she said. "I thought if Brolly Arts could champion independent artists, it wouldn’t be seen as competition, but as a complement. And it worked.
"It’s all about the role of arts and culture plays in community development and engagement, and you have to have high-quality art to make that work," she said.
So far, Brolly Arts has helped nearly 500 artists, and its new project is called ‘Inland/Outland: Visual & Musical Journey Through Utah’s Varied Landscapes.’ (See accompanying story.)
Marrouche sees potential collaboration with the KAC and Brolly Arts in the future.
"We have already talked about how we can bring what Amy does into our stables," Marrouche said.