Visual Arts Center Seeks New Director



The president and chief executive of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, Ava Spece, stepped down last week after three years at the helm.

The board's vice chairwoman, Patty Wilkerson, is serving as interim executive director while the nonprofit begins a national search for a full-time replacement. Wilkerson will be the third interim director since longtime president Jo Kennedy retired in 2010.

The board's chairman, David Sylvia, says that for a variety of reasons, he can't go into the details of why Spece left. But she's "done a very nice job over the last three years," he says, and "we really wish her well on her next endeavors."

Spece hadn't responded by press time to questions she asked Style to submit.

"She did a nice job of continuing the strategic direction and helping us grow," Sylvia says of Spece. "We've been recognized for top youth and adult classes by Richmond magazine most recently. She helped our outreach to the underserved."

Vis Arts, the largest nonuniversity arts education program in the state, employs around 15 to 18 full-time staff members, as well as a large number of part-time faculty members who teach classes.

"We're looking for someone who has a strong conviction in our mission to provide arts for wide variety of audiences," Sylvia says. "We pride ourselves on being Richmond's community arts center. We need a really strong leader to lead staff."

The organization marks the 50th anniversary of its craft and design show Nov. 22 and 23 at the Science Museum of Virginia, which features 53 national artists and 10 craft breweries.

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