State of the Arts 2011
Hello, Goodbye

DiverseWorks ArtSpace makes some changes at the top

DiverseWorks ArtSpace makes some changes at the top

As the fall arts season kicks off, DiverseWorks ArtSpace is making some major changes.

Diane Barber, the center's co-exeutive director and visual arts curator, is leaving Sept. 30 "to pursue independent curatorial projects," according to a press release. She has curated more than 60 projects in her 14-year tenure with the center.

William Betts, artist and board member, took over the helm Tuesday as interim executive director, and, if his role will be anything like the one that he played at Lawndale Art Center in 2006, this will be a period of transformation for the innovative art center. Betts will oversee the center's administrative and development functions.

 "I can look at things objectively ... It's a little bit on the mercenary side, but I can make the hard choices," Betts said.

 As part of the changes, the co-executive directorship has been abolished and former co-executive/performing arts curator Sixto Wagan has become artistic director. He will oversee programming and work with guest curators.

Betts, whose primary focus remains a career in painting, told CultureMap that his first priorities as executive director are to strengthen the balance sheet, grow the board and cultivate development. "I can look at things objectively ... It's a little bit on the mercenary side, but I can make the hard choices," he said.

"It's hard to say exactly what [this transformation] will look like," Betts explained. "We have to work within the organization, and with the mission of the organization, to set finite goals and objectives and implement a strategic plan ... We've got a lot of work to do."

The more stringent delegation of DiverseWorks' administrative duties comes at an interesting time, as artistic designations are becoming less and less focused.

"We are excited to re-define how an art space serves artists and audiences in a time when contemporary artists consistently blur the boundaries between visual and performing arts," Wagan said in a statement.

"Beyond the Internet and social media’s effect on how and who is making art, the new economic climate fundamentally changes how artists are making work. Through this transition, we hope to bring DiverseWorks to a place where we are proactively responding to these shifts, helping our audiences navigate them and strengthening DiverseWorks’ infrastructure to support artists."

DiverseWorks also announced that two crossover performers with upcoming shows have received grants which will help the artists to develop and promote their work. Writer Aaron Landsman received a New England Foundation for the Arts Grant for his piece, City Council Meeting, part of the center's 2012-2013 season. Choreographer Zoe Scofield was awarded a Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship for her installation/performance A Crack in Everything, which will be on view at DiverseWorks Jan. 19, 2012.

An event to celebrate Barber and welcome Betts will be held later in September. All members of the Houston arts community, current and past DiverseWorks' staff and board members will be invited to attend. More details to come.

News_William Betts
William Betts is the new interim executive director at DiverseWorks Photo by Fulton Davenport: PWL Studio
News_Diane Barber_DiverseWorks
Diane Barber will leave DiverseWorks at the end of September Photo by Gary Fountain
News_Diverseworks_grants_Aaron Landsman City Council Meeting
"City Council Meeting" by Aaron Landsman Courtesy of the artist
News_DiverseWorks_grants_Zoe Scofield_A Crack at Everything
Zoe Scofield in "A Crack in Everything" Courtesy of Zoe | Juniper