ArtsCenter announces staff changes

Aug. 21, 2014 @ 05:13 PM

The ArtsCenter in Carrboro has announced new positions in the wake of the retirement of its executive director earlier this month.

Noel James, who is currently the ArtsCenter’s arts in education coordinator, will begin duties as interim director of the non-profit organization beginning Sept. 9, said Jay Miller, board chairman.

In a posted release, the ArtsCenter also announced that Brad Porter, current director of operations, will take over the organization’s concerts department beginning Sept. 1.

The ArtsCenter’s Board of Directors was unanimous in choosing James, Miller said. “Everybody’s excited about having her,” he said. “She is well rounded in the arts and has worked with a lot of nonprofits over the years,” Miller said. James is also vice chair of the board of Durham-based Kidznotes, a music education non-profit.

In her current position, she works with the ArtsCenter’s program that puts artists in schools. Miller said James helped with a restructuring of the youth programs. She will continue in her duties as interim director to help with the program. Jillian Lea, who is the ArtsCenter’s school and family performances coordinator, will take over as arts in education coordinator.

The changes come on the heels of Art Menius’ announcement that he would retire at the end of this month as director of the ArtsCenter, a position he has held since April 2012. Menius has been on sabbatical since July and is no longer involved in The ArtsCenter’s day-to-day operations. In an online announcement earlier this month, Menius cited stress and health as reasons for his retirement.

Porter has served as the director of operations since February 2011 and has been handling all of the concerts work since December 2012, when the ArtsCenter laid off its previous director of concerts and facilities. At the time, the organization announced plans to focus more on its educational mission.

The ArtsCenter continues to present concerts, but Miller said the organization is trying to combine concerts with classes and workshops. “We want to work the educational piece into the concerts any way we can,” a fact that “differentiates us from other performing organizations,” he said. The organization already has presented songwriting classes in conjunction with concerts. Other examples of combining education with performance might be master classes, workshops and panel discussions, Miller said.

The ArtsCenter’s popular American Roots Series will continue, Porter said, but the center is seeking to broaden its audience through new programming. Shirlette Ammons, a local poet and musician who also is the ArtsCenter’s youth arts coordinator, is currently working on a partnership with Durham-based The Art of Cool Project. ArtsCenter employee and musician Jenks Miller (Mount Moriah, Horseback, Jenks Miller Band) will be curating a separate concert series. Both series will stress education, Porter said.

"We want to diversify our offerings. We want to diversify our crowd," Porter said. The ArtsCenter also plans to offer more opportunities for local artists to perform at the venue to give them a sense of ownership.