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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Who Will Be the Next Director of Seattle Arts & Lectures?

posted by on June 7 at 17:19 PM

Just got off the phone with Kim Brown Seely, who’s in charge of the search committee for a new director for Seattle Arts & Lectures. (Seely is vice president of the board.) SAL’s current director, Margit Rankin, announced earlier this week that she is stepping down.

THE STRANGER: I was just looking at SAL’s website, and it says “There are currently no open positions with Seattle Arts & Lectures.” That’s not exactly true.
KIM BROWN SEELY: Well, we have a search committee that is being put together as we speak. We’re launching a national search. The website I suppose is a day or two out of date.

It must be a hard job to do a search for the position, since the right person has to be an excellent administrator with the educational background to oversee SAL’s three educational programs and dream up the lecture series and be its emcee. Have you guys considered dividing the executive director role into two roles, like an artistic director and a managing director?
It’s actually too soon for me to speak to that. We’re looking at a number of possibilities, and the organization has grown to the extent that we may be looking at a different model.

Is the organization secure enough—you’re going into your 20th year—that you guys are willing to take a few more risks?

What about finding a local literary superstar to dream up and emcee the lecture series on a not-full-time basis? Is that a possibility?
It’s way too soon for me to speak to that.

I’ve always thought it would be great to hire someone like Sherman Alexie to do that. He’s great on stage.
It’s interesting that you should bring that up. We’ve been looking at all sorts of different models—maybe even having different people host each lecture. Sherman would be phenomenal.

Does the new director of SAL need to wear glasses? Will that help them in the interview process?
That’s a very difficult question. As someone who’s legally blind, I can’t wear glasses. They would be too thick to wear. Now that’s literary! They would be thicker than coke bottles. [Laughs.] They don’t need to look the part, obviously. We’re looking for someone who’s interested in ideas.

Will you consider internal candidates—current SAL staffers?
It’s too soon to speak to that.

Rebecca Hoogs really smart.
I know.

I know you haven’t even put the whole committee together yet, but if people want to apply, what should they do?
They should contact the office directly.

[Rankin is leaving at the end of July. The official press release about her departure is after the jump.]

Seattle Arts & Lectures
June 4, 2007

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We write to you on the eve of our 20th anniversary season of another passage: Seattle Arts & Lectures will say farewell to Executive Director Margit Rankin at the end of July.

Margit has been instrumental in developing the organization that you know and enjoy today and she will be missed. Under her leadership, the Lecture and Poetry Series have thrived, the Writers in the Schools program has expanded, and several other programs have also grown. With some of the largest literary audiences in the nation, the Lecture and Poetry Series have presented an impressive and varied roster of distinguished authors such as Oliver Sacks, Edward P. Jones, and Adrienne Rich; audiences for the Poetry Series have increased forty percent. Margit has also introduced successful new events focusing on the environment and children's authors. The Writers in the Schools program has expanded from thirteen to twenty-one schools in the region. During her tenure, support from individuals, corporations and foundations has grown tremendously.

While we are saddened by Margit's departure, we are grateful for her legacy-a strong, financially sound organization poised for the next twenty years. Margit remains passionately committed to Seattle Arts & Lectures' mission, and looks forward to supporting the organization through its transition. A national search is underway for her replacement. Candidate suggestions or questions can be directed to board member Kim Brown Seely.

For nearly two decades Seattle Arts & Lectures has been devoted to exploring ideas and the imagination through language. In partnership with sponsors, underwriters, donors, and subscribers, we have developed Seattle's now famous culture of reading by involving audiences along the entire continuum of their lives. Seattle Arts & Lectures has nurtured emerging writers and brought world-class speakers to Seattle. Writers in the Schools, our Golden Apple award-wining program for K-12 students, and Teachers as Scholars, serve both young minds and those who shape them, while Wednesday University engages life-long learners, all building future audiences to secure our cultural legacy.

Your support and participation in Seattle Arts & Lectures' programs is deeply valued. The celebration of a 20th anniversary is a testament to your dedication. We look forward to launching the 2007-08 season with Nobel Prize winners Wangari Maathai and Orhan Pamuk, and hope to see you there.


Susan Potts, Board Chair
Margit, Rankin, Executive Director

Seattle Arts & Lectures

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is this copy paid for...ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Posted by Mary | June 7, 2007 7:48 PM

I like that James Lipton fellow.

Posted by Jim Demetre | June 7, 2007 9:35 PM

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