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News (Fort McMurray): Russell Thomas named Interim Executive Director of Wood Buffalo Arts Council

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News (Fort McMurray): Russell Thomas named Interim Executive Director of Wood Buffalo Arts Council

Russell_ThomasIn a joint press conference held today at Keyano Theatre & Arts Centre, Christine Burton, Chair, Arts Council Wood Buffalo announced the appointment of Russell Thomas as interim Executive Director. Seconded to the organization from Keyano College, the long-time arts advocate will begin his new role May 20, 2013.

Russell is a former board member, Treasurer, and long-time supporter of Theatre Alberta. He is also a frequent contributor to our theatre magazine, All Stages. 
Congratulations Russell – we are all thrilled for you!

“Having someone who knows the community, who has established relationships with a broad range of community groups and organizations and community development experience is so important to establishing the momentum we need,” said Burton.

“Russell’s skill, knowledge of business processes and passion for the arts makes him an obvious choice to lead the Arts Council.”

“The Arts Council is essential to growing the Arts in the region and we are very pleased to be able to contribute to this process,” said Dr. Kevin Nagel, President & CEO, Keyano College.

“When a community comes together with a vision, incredible things can happen. It takes the collaboration, dedication and commitment of many individuals and organizations to build a vibrant and dynamic arts community and we look forward to working with Russell and the Arts Council to realize this vision.”

There will be a number of priorities for the Arts Council in the coming months, including establishing a permanent board, refining its mandate, mission and vision, creating a budget and securing funding, and working with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on a public art policy. Most importantly, the Arts Council will engage community arts organizations, individuals engaged in the Arts as well as Arts-related organizations to understand their needs, map existing resources and build a collaborative vision for the arts in our region.

“Having a full-time, dedicated Executive Director will enable the Arts Council to get established and work through its goals quickly. The interim Board is so pleased to have someone with Russell’s skill set to help us get there. We want to express our deepest appreciation to Dr. Nagel and the Keyano Board of Governors for making Russell’s appointment possible,” said Burton.

“I am enormously excited about this opportunity,” said Russell Thomas.

“At the request of Dr. Nagel, since September I have been focusing the bulk of my efforts on building energy around the arts at Keyano College and in the community. This move to the Arts Council is a natural evolution. By getting this important organization up and running we can begin to realize the arts and culture vision set out in the Municipal Development Plan. We have the potential in Wood Buffalo to do some amazing things in the arts. I’m honoured to have the chance to contribute to making that happen.”

Thomas will transition into his new role effective May 20, working out of office space provided by Keyano in the Arts Centre.

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