I’ve always felt it was my responsibility to provide an environment in which an artist can encounter a public or an audience in the most favorable way. I work to make sure I can present things that reflect the desire and integrity of the artist in a way that is understood by the public, that isn’t alien. In that sense, I am a bridge between an artist and a community.
Critically important to the mission and goals of Americans for the Arts, these individuals help advance the arts through their leadership.
Ron Whitehead is an artist, veteran of the Gulf War, and presently teaches photography and art at Ossining High School in New York state. As an artist, his complex images, rendered in layered photography, speak to the duality of military service and the return to civilian life. Ron’s black & white photograph “Art of Healing” was a categorical winner at the 2015 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
Growing up in Southern California, I was lucky enough to be exposed to the arts in my public high school. That experience opened up a whole new world to me where all the arts, but particularly visual art, would change my life. It would lead me to major in art history in college and follow that up with a commitment to arts education in philanthropy. I have served on nonprofit arts boards large and small, from PS Arts to MOCA in an effort that others could have similar eye opening experiences with the arts.
"The partnerships between business and the arts are essential–our sector provides the creative capital and business provides the capital investment that makes the project a go. I don’t think I’ve ever initiated a major new program without the support of the business sector. The arts are the entrepreneurs of creativity–unlike any other sector, the arts create programs that touch almost every aspect of community life in substantive, meaningful, long lasting ways. Businesses are often looking for creative, impactful programs in which to invest.
Serving on many nonprofit boards has helped me realize that for a community to be successful, it has to come together efficiently and effectively. As the city of Des Moines embarked on a commitment to the arts, I discovered that supporting the arts in addition to human and social services could strengthen the community ties that are so important to Bankers Trust Company, Iowa’s largest community bank.