Friday, February 14, 2014

Sangre hires new ED Jim Richerson

Posted By on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 12:50 PM

For the third time since long-time executive director Maggie Divelbiss left in 2010, the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center has announced that it's found its next ED, Jim Richerson.
click to enlarge Richerson, like a lot of museum executives, has encountered plenty of public scrutiny. - COURTESY SANGRE DE CRISTO ARTS CENTER
  • Courtesy Sangre de Cristo Arts Center
  • Richerson, like a lot of museum executives, has encountered plenty of public scrutiny.
Strangely, Richerson comes to Sangre from the Peoria Riverfront Museum and Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences in Illinois, which is the same institution that just hired Sam Gappmayer, who headed the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center until last November.

Richerson worked at the facility for 13 years before leaving last May (having helmed it for almost a year in its newest iteration, and 12 years prior when it was the Lakeview Museum). According to the Peoria Journal Star, the museum's board let Richerson go, citing a desire for a leader with more entrepreneurial experience "as well as 'startup oriented.'" Board chairman Dave Ransburg downplayed any tensions to the Star and said that "we wouldn't have a museum without him," adding that he'd write a recommendation for Richerson anytime.

The story also mentions some controversy surrounding Richerson and the institution, having to do with its financial records demanded by Peoria County, which owns the structure and the land beneath it. A referendum was narrowly passed in 2009 to use $40 million of taxpayer money toward the institution's expansion (as part of a $140 million capital campaign Richerson launched). There was also a dustup regarding plans for the institution that may have involved taxpayer dollars that Richerson was accused of having made, a claim Ransburg denies. Given the lack of follow-up on both topics, it would seem that Richerson is in the clear.

Richerson was said to have not hit the desired marks in museum attendance. By last August, the Star reported, the museum was still struggling with visitors —  hitting 25 percent below projections — both in the museum proper and in its Giant Screen Theater, which was counted upon as a source of revenue. Only 27,100 have come to the theater, far below expectations of 50,000. As of January, another peril came to light, this time an issue with the institute's HVAC system, which was acting wonky and even led to a flooring issue in the main hall. Beyond possibly damaging artwork via fluctuating humidity levels, it could compromise the museum's accreditation status with the American Alliance of Museums, which could investigate.

Gappmayer told the Star he was not worried, having dealt with large buildings and their calamities in his career. Which is true, given his time at the FAC and its original structural components, which are nearing 80 years old. The year before Gappmayer left, a leak sprung on one of the building's older corners, forcing FAC to pay $75,000 in immediate repairs. The artwork, however, was safe in another part of the complex.

Back in Peoria, though, the institution is under a microscope, given its ties to the county and taxpayer money. It's a similar situation at Sangre; Pueblo County owns the building and pays for maintenance. Due to cost-cutting, though, the county will phase out some of its support for the museum, which Sangre spokesperson Jenny Kemp says it's already preparing for.

Getting back to Richerson, Sangre's press materials state that he was a multi-year Fulbright Scholar, and has worked as a consultant for the J. Paul Getty Trust and the governments of Tunisia, Malta and Jordan. He also was the founding co-chair of AAM's Professional Interest Committee on Green Museum Initiatives. Sangre's search committee narrowed their search from 125 applicants down to four before choosing Richerson, who will start on March 17. A family friendly community reception for him will be held Thursday, March 20 from 4-6 p.m. Read the whole press release after the jump.

Arts Center announces new executive director
Former Peoria, IL museum president/CEO takes reins March 17

(Pueblo, Colo.) The Board of Trustees of the Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center is pleased to announce that Jim Richerson, former president and CEO of the Peoria Riverfront Museum and Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences, has accepted the position of executive director of the Arts Center. He will be on the Arts Center campus starting March 17.

Richerson concluded his tenure in Peoria, IL in 2013 after 13 years at its helm. Under his direction, the museum and its partners completed a $140 million capital campaign for a cultural/corporate collaboration project that included Caterpiller, Inc. in downtown Peoria. The multifaceted project covering art, history, science and achievement has a variety of green and sustainable features involving environmental, economic and social initiatives, and was certified as LEED Gold in 2013. In addition to many other notable achievements, he was successful in aligning the museum with the Smithsonian Institution through its affiliations program.

Richerson holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in design and sculpture from the University of Chicago, a Bachelor of Arts from Coe College in Iowa, and certificates in Museum Management from the University of Colorado-Boulder and Nonprofit Finance from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He has worked and lived overseas as an Academic Specialist for the U.S. Information Service, been a multi-year Fulbright scholar, worked as a consultant for the J. Paul Getty Trust, and as a museum consultant to the Jordanian, Maltese and Tunisian governments. In addition, he has actively participated in the greater museum community by serving on advisory boards and committees, and was the founding co-chair of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Professional Interest Committee on Green Museum Initiatives.

“The search committee, comprised of board and staff members, has come to the end of a thorough and arduous process, and are very pleased that Mr. Richerson will be joining us,” said Carol Spradley, Arts Center Board of Trustees Chair and executive search committee member. “The national search rendered over 125 applicants and we believe that speaks to the integrity of the Arts Center and the quality of life in Pueblo.”

Richerson was one of four final candidates selected by the search committee from among the applicants for the Arts Center’s top position. The search for a new executive director was re-launched in November 2013 following an effort earlier in the year that did not yield a final candidate. Richerson was not an applicant during the previous search.

Joining Richerson in Pueblo will be his spouse, Judy Lee. They have two grown sons, ages 20 and 24.

“We find a great sense of renewal in living the essence of each moment, being involved in engaging conversations, great food, biking, hiking, kayaking, yoga and advancing cultural entities,” Richerson said.

A family-friendly public reception to introduce Richerson to the community is scheduled for Thursday, March 20 from 4-6 p.m. in the Buell Children’s Museum at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center.

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