Former VCU Dean Takes Over 

Arts Council The Richmond arts community is greeting news of the Richmond Arts Council's new president, John Bryan, with the enthusiasm of a Broadway musical revival.
Carol Piersol, artistic director of the Firehouse Theatre Project, gives a one-word review: "Fantastic!"

Bryan, who will begin taking over the arts-funding umbrella group in September, is among arts administrators, a repeat performance. He spent two decades at Virginia Commonwealth University as an associate dean for development in the School of the Arts and has long ties with many city cultural groups. He was a founding board member at SPARC, a children's theater program, and has consulted with the Firehouse.

"John is someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for," says Jennifer Brown, SPARC's executive director.

Bryan will be taking over from Larry Moffett, a retired insurance executive who has headed the organization for nearly three years as a part-time volunteer -- though replacing himself with a full-time, paid administrator has long been a goal.

The change comes at a tumultuous time in the Richmond cultural scene. With a sour economy upending corporate giving and the full impact of the new CenterStage performing arts center still a variable, arts groups are all reassessing their place.

In response, new Richmond Cultural Action Plan headed up by Bill Martin, director of the Valentine Richmond History Center, has recently organized and seeks to rearrange the way public and private money is distributed among cultural groups -- realignment that may lead to an Arts Council overhaul or perhaps its termination.

"I believe the cultural plan will require all organizations to look inward and reevaluate some of their traditional approaches within the community," Moffett says.



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