Kimball Art Center director ready for the future
The Kimball Art Center has legacy and history of connecting people through art in Park City, and Jory Macomber wants to take the nonprofit into the future.
When the board of directors officially took off the word interim off his executive director title at the end of January, Macomber didn’t feel a weight of responsibility. He felt and open door of opportunity for the KAC to become a leader cultivating the town’s thriving arts community.
“I think art is part of Park City’s DNA, and it will only become more important as the city grows, especially when you take the Sundance Film Festival and the Park City Kimball Arts Festival into consideration,” Macomber said. “I’m really excited about looking at the potential for the Kimball Art Center to play a lead role in the developing Arts and Culture District.”
The district, which Park City announced a few months ago, is planned for a 5.25-acre space in the Bonanza Park area.
Macomber, who has been involved in designing and building arts facilities for schools on the East Coast, said he can’t wait to get started here.
“This is a big project,” he said. “To have an arts and culture district is important for us to have a second footprint here in addition to the Park City Kimball Arts Festival.”
Macomber also wants to see the arts festival grow.
“We are now looking at how to become not just one of the best arts festivals in the country, but how to become the premiere arts festival,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there will be twice as many people. It’s more about the quality of artists and what the experience will be like. And that’s not something we can do in one year, but how can we do that in 10 years.”
Macomber, who was named the Kimball Art Center’s interim executive director after the departure of Lindsie Smith, originally joined the staff as education director last year.
The job allowed Macomber, who was raised in Massachusetts, to rely on his education background, which includes working at Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, for more than 20 years.
“I started as an English teacher and became the dean of faculty,” he said. “I eventually was asked to be the associate head of school.”
Macomber also served as the head of school at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont, where he helped raise over $3 million to construct a new edcuation facility.
Prior to that, he came to Utah in 2014 to be the vice president of athlete career and education for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, and served as head of the ski teams Ski Academy for one year.
Because he has spent his whole career in education, Macomber is fascinated with the facets of arts in education.
“One thing is that the next generation of education is going to be more about the creative process than it is about critical thinking,” he said. “I was an English and history teacher and those subjects were more about memorization and analysis. But now, with all of these electronic devices, there is more need for credibility. And that’s what the Kimball teaches, and that was exciting for me.”
Macomber looks forward to expanding the Kimball Art Center education programs.
“We have two avenues of education,” he said. “The first is our outreach program where we take lessons from our exhibitions into schools, and the other includes our art classes and summer camps.”
One outreach program is Elementary Visual Arts, known as E.V.A., which is a partnership between the Kimball Art Center and the Park City Education Foundation.
“The program provides a visual art curriculum for Park City School District’s elementary schools, and we met with the Ed Foundation to discusses how we could provide more art education for these students throughout the school year,” Macomber said.
Another outreach program is A.R.T.S., which is an acronym for Academic Resources for Teachers and Students.
This program, developed by the Kimball Art Center staff, includes art curriculum lessons for kindergarteners through 12th graders, said Amy Roberts, the Kimball Art Center director of communications.
The program integrates art into lessons based on the national core subject curriculum such as math, science, reading, writing, history and the language arts, And the third outreach program, called Off the Chart, is a once-a-week after-school program that is held in the four Park City School District elementary schools that runs for eight weeks, Roberts said.
“In fact, all of the Kimball Art Center class offerings are based on the Utah state and National Core Curriculum requirements, and a lot of them are focused on science and the environment and how art ties into things,” Roberts said.
Macomber addressed the Kimball Art Center’s on-site classes and summer camps, and said the nonprofit has collected usable data from what it offered last year.
“We are using the date and looking at how to improve the classes and camps and increase participation,” he said. “As an educator, we push and create goals beyond just having a good experience. We are looking more at what we want the students to learn as far as ‘what does the creative process mean,’ and ‘what will they take from the classes?’”
Macomber’s introduction to the Kimball Art Center was through his 17-year-old daughter, Anna, who now attends Cambridge School of Weston, an arts boarding school in Massachusetts.
“She took art classes at the Kimball Art Center, and I would come visit and talk with her teachers,” he said.
Macomber’s other children, Sam, 24, and Clark, 21, attend Cornell Law School and St. Lawrence University, respectively, and his wife Martha works for the University of Utah, as the liaison between the school and the Ute Indian tribe.
The family also has a dog, Pemi, a golden doodle named after a river in New Hampshire.
In addition to the classes, the Kimball Art Center offers the Young Artists’ Academy, and program for students who are seriously dedicated to the study and practice of visual arts, Macomber said.
Students can enrich their portfolios and resumes, meet local artists and explore careers in the visual arts, he said.
“It is basically a high school program, and one of our stronger programs,” Macomber said. “But what we’ve seen is a demand for a junior high and middle school level offering for grades six to eight. And this is a gap we want to close.”
While these programs focus on students, Macomber said the Kimball Art Center is also vested in its educators.
“We have our educator nights once a month, which are designed to train our teachers,” he said. “We want to expand that to the point where we can get our teachers certified.”
The ultimate goal is to make the Kimball Art Center a renowned arts-educational institution.
“This is something that the Kimball is looking for with all of its upcoming projects,” said Macomber, who holds degrees from Dartmouth, Brown and Columbia. “I’m also excited to be part of an organization that wants to grown quickly in the next five to six years.”
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