Downtown In the News / Meet a Downtownie

Arts Council Names New Director

From the Daily News-Record:

Valley Arts Council Taps New Director
Posted 2009-01-26
By Jeremy Hunt

HARRISONBURG – Cecilia Carter Browne was drawn to the city’s downtown.

When she found out she was in the running to take the helm at the Arts Council of the Valley, Carter Browne explored Harrisonburg and found the downtown to have the right combination of design, ambience, culture and history.

“There’s something about the downtown area that has a really good feeling to it,” she said. “This place has something special.”

The arts council board apparently had a good feeling about Carter Browne too. They hired her and last week, Carter Browne began settling into her post as the Arts Council of the Valley’s new executive director.

The council, a nonprofit organization that supports the arts in the Valley through grants, fundraising and other means, was founded in 2001.
She succeeds Kai Degner, the new city mayor, who left the position to work at the Community Mediation Center.

Carter Browne has a bachelor’s in art and art history from the University of Texas and a master’s in museum studies and marketing from Texas Tech University.

In 2001, the Texas Tech University system hired Carter Browne to launch a public art program for its campuses.

In 2006, it was named one of the top 10 university public art programs in the U.S. by Public Art Review, a journal devoted exclusively to the field.

Since taking the job at ACV, Carter Browne has been splitting her time between Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, where her husband works at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Carter Browne says she’s been getting familiar with ACV, reading through past strategic plans and meeting board and community members.

“I’m sort of in an orientation phase right now,” she said.

Her varied experience working with museums, theaters and visual art made her a “perfect fit” for ACV, said Ann Menefee, president of the board of directors.

“We see her as a leader with the expertise and the vision for enhancing the cultural opportunities we have here,” Menefee said.

Carter Browne credited the council’s previous directors for building a strong program, and she wants to take it to the next level.
“I’m looking forward to taking the Arts Council to another step in its journey and developing it further,” she said. “I am enthusiastic and passionate about this opportunity.”

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