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Arts Council of New Orleans Announces New President/CEO Kim Cook
The Board of Directors of the Arts Council of New Orleans is pleased to announce Kim Cook as the new CEO. Ms. Cook will be on staff May 1. Board Chair Tom Reese made the announcement today stating é─˙Ms. Cook is passionate about the intersection between culture and community, and cognizant that the arts play an instrumental role in advancing economic, social, and human interests. New Orleans is the quintessential city for culture and creative expression and we are pleased that Kim plans to be actively engaged in advancing goals that serve our artists, arts organizations and the citizens of New Orleans.é─¨

Ms. Cooké─˘s background in the arts is fairly universal and has been aimed at creating a comprehensive understanding of both the forms and the implications for arts and culture in society. Her earliest arts experiences were situated in the social dances of the African Diaspora including Middle Eastern, West African Hi-Life, Cuban, Afro-Haitian, and African American. Building upon her love of culture led to training that included singing in jazz, musical theater, and opera as well as acting, directing and producing, while continuing to develop her dance skills in ballet, jazz, and modern. Her B.A. from California State University in Music, Theater, and Dance. She holds a M.A. from John F. Kennedy University is in Arts and Consciousness which established her understanding of the role of the artist in civic life, the ways that creativity is a fundamental part of being human, and how to integrate culture and community.

Professionally, Ms. Cooké─˘s work bridges between direct artistic work and skill development in management, thus transcending both. Her achievements include a é─˙Coming Up Talleré─¨ award from the Clinton White House for her work with the Oakland Youth Chorus, serving as a board member for California Presenters, and becoming a Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Fellow where she did practicums in International Programming, Electronic Media, and Corporate Sponsorship. With regard to her appointment as President and CEO of the Arts Council, Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser states, "Kim has a wide ranging cultural sensibility and a clear commitment to building a viable arts infrastructure. I am excited for her to take on the leadership role with the Arts Council of New Orleans. It is a great fit for her talents and experience."

Cook is an early promoter of creative economy theory, working in Silicon Valley with partners to convene CEOs and multiple civic leaders to embrace the relationship between arts and innovation, leading to an international summit in June of 2006. She also served on Innovation Philadelphiaé─˘s International Advisory Committee for the Cultural Economy from 2002-2006.

Always connected to advances in technology, Cook has been on the forefront of progressive movements to integrate uses of electronic media, data, and the arts. She was the architect behind the creation of the Cultural Data Projecté─˘s partnership with Nonprofit Finance Fund that led to the currently available online é─˙Financial Health Analysisé─¨. é─˙We are pleased to welcome Kim Cook to New Orleans. Kim brings with her a wealth of experience in cultural economy development, management and fundraising from a 20-year career in the arts. She will be a valuable addition to our cultural community, and we congratulate the Arts Council of New Orleans on their successful search to lead this important organization,é─¨ said Scott Hutcheson, Advisor to the Mayor for Cultural Economy.

As a producer and curator, she created performances including é─˙Harvesté─¨ in San Francisco in 2001. In 2006, she was marketing director for the inaugural ZeroOne San Jose Festival of Arts & Technology garnering an attendance of 50,000 people, and for Zoobilee at Philadelphiaé─˘s Zoo in 2008. Additionally, Kim is credited with opening the West Coast for Hip Hop Theater and Concert Dance with the commissioning and/or co-producing of Will Poweré─˘s and Marc Bamuthi Josephé─˘s first performance pieces, co-producing the SF Hip Hop DanceFest (and serving as 2004 curator), and bringing Bill é─˙Crutchmasteré─¨ Shannon to the attention of Cirque du Soleil resulting in his choreographic work on Cirqueé─˘s é─˙Varekaié─¨. In 2003, she toured with Rennie Harris Puremovementé─˘s é─˙Facing Mekkaé─¨ and was contracted by the Japanese Cultural Trade Network to contextualize Hip Hop for Japanese audiences in Kanazawa and Tokyo, Japan. She also directed and co-produced Shailja Patelé─˘s é─˙Migritudeé─¨ which was selected for the Vienna Women in Transition Theater Festival and toured for five weeks in Kenya with Ford Foundation funding in 2007.

Immediately prior to coming to New Orleans, Ms. Cook was Associate Director for Nonprofit Finance Fund. For the past four years, she led the work in arts and culture for NFF across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, working with over 80 organizations with budgets ranging from $30,000 to $17 million, to re-engineer working business models in the arts. Sheé─˘s spent valuable time in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta and Miami cultivating an understanding of the many factors that impact the arts sector across the different regions. In the last year, she also worked in California with all types of small grass-roots community based organizations.

The Board praised the exemplary stewardship of Mary Len Costa, who has served as Interim President/CEO since June 2007. Mary Len, who was an active participant in the search for a new CEO, will continue to provide leadership at the Arts Council in working with the arts and cultural community she knows so well. The Board also expressed its deep gratitude to the Arts16 for their stalwart support of the Arts Councilé─˘s goal to bring someone of Kim Cooké─˘s stature and experience to New Orleans.

The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the Cityé─˘s official arts agency. Now in its 37th year, the Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state and national governmental agencies, foundations and other non-profit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the greater New Orleans area through a diversity of initiatives and services. The Arts Council serves as one of nine regional distributing agencies for the State of Louisiana grant funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program on behalf of the City of New Orleans. (www.artscouncilofneworleans.org)  


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