Plano community leaders take part in Leadership Arts Institute


Local art and business leaders enrolled in this 2015-16 Business Council for the Arts’ Leadership Arts Institute are preparing to graduate from the program in May and are encouraging other like-minded people in Plano to sign up for the Class of 2017. The Dallas program is open to artists and business leaders in Collin and Denton counties.

The upcoming graduating class consists of 12 professionals who live and work in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Denton and Richardson. Students started in September and meet once a month at different venues to participate in educational workshops.

At the end of the year, the students are paired up with the boards of nonprofit organizations in the communities where they can continue to promote art and culture. Alex Hargis, the Historic Downtown Plano Association executive director, is a part of the class this year along with  Sara Akers, founder of the Plano Children’s Theatre; Michelle Hawkins, administrator of arts, culture and heritage for the city of Plano; and Karen David with Chamberlain Performing Arts.

“The program has been extremely successful in downtown Dallas,” Hargis said. “The whole goal was to close that gap between business leaders and the leaders in the arts sector.”

Founded in 1988, the Business Council for the Arts is a nonprofit organization that has about 1,000 graduates from its Leadership Arts Institute. The aim is to create an expert group of art and business leaders to head up art associations in their respective communities. The program aims to train leaders in a way that they might be able to serve on boards of nonprofit organizations and promote art in their respective cities.

Arts and cultural activities contributed approximately $1 billion in 2009 to the North Texas economy, according to the 2010 Economic Impact Study of Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations of North Texas.

Katherine Wagner, Business Council for the Arts CEO, said the arts can impact a person’s attraction to a city, meaning these students are expected to be more involved in the community as a result of the class. This, she said, can also lead to regional business benefits.

“We train business professionals to be the very best board members they can be for art associations,” Wagner said.

A mixer will be held in early May with details to come at a later date. Applications for the year 2016-2017 are now open and more information is available here.

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