Changes are underway with the Asheville Area Arts Council. The local nonprofit will soon be leaving their home in the Grove Arcade to take residence in The Refinery space in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood. Staff changes are also in progress. Kitty Love will be stepping down from her position as Executive Director. Love has served as the Executive Director of the Asheville Area Arts Council since December of 2011, helping to resurrect the nonprofit organization during the last five years. A professionally trained artist who has spent her life engaged in creative entrepreneurial projects, including mural art, retail craft, interior design, tattoo art and five years as a downtown gallery owner, Love has had a significant impact in shape-shifting the AAAC and will be moving into a consultant role to continue supporting the AAAC. Stefanie Darr, who was hired in January as the organization’s Operations Manager, will serve as interim Executive Director. Darr has an extensive background in arts administration, having served as Educator for Public Programs at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Gallery Manager at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and Director of Community Education at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film.
“Kitty has done a remarkable job of bringing the Asheville Area Arts Council this far from where it was when she came on board as its executive director five years ago,” said Gar Ragland, AAAC Board Chair. “Her intelligence, vision and passion for the arts and those who create it in Asheville and Buncombe County have been an inspiration to many of us who have worked with her. Some of the Arts Council’s most important initiatives – The Refinery, Kids Tixx in partnership with Joel Adams, the Buncombe Cultural Alliance and our annual Creative Sector Summit – were all cultivated under her directorship, and are valuable contributions to this community.”
During Love’s time as Executive Director, the AAAC renewed their relationship with the NC State Art Council, becoming the leading grant-making agency for artists and art programs in the area. Love’s dedication to strengthening the ties from our community to the city and state in working to show the economic engine of the arts has made a notable impact. Programs created under her directorship include “Artist Business Brainstorms,” the Certificate in Arts Business Management (a cooperative program with AB Tech), the Design and Marketing Symposium and the Artist Resource Center—a design lab for local artists. This groundwork has laid an invaluable foundation for the council to move forward. In fact, the council’s latest development by Studio & Exhibitions Manager Jennifer Gordon, the Refinery, is just one of many positive steps in providing affordable resources, space, and access to artists and arts education in this community to continue that work. The AAAC plans to shift their headquarters to the Coxe Avenue location in the coming months to strengthen that connection from the council to the artists and the Asheville community.
“The Asheville Area Arts Council’s board and staff are very excited about The Refinery, our new, soon-to-open artist, co-op, exhibition, office and event space at 207 Coxe Avenue in the South Slope. With our pending relocation of office and gallery space to The Refinery, we’re committed to being fully invested in the growth of the exciting innovation in downtown Asheville, where all of our programs can flourish and serve the artist community under one roof,” said Ragland.