Spokane Arts' new Executive Director, Melissa Huggins.
After learning this summer of the pending departure of Spokane Arts
' Executive Director Laura Becker, the citywide arts nonprofit needed a new leader. Becker, a Spokane native
who ran the organization for a little more than a year and a half, announced in August
that she'd be leaving the position for a job in Southern California, mainly to be closer to family.
Spokane Arts sought Becker's replacement through a national job posting, but ended up tapping a local arts leader to take over the helm. Melissa Huggins, who's directed Eastern Washington University's Get Lit! Programs
for the past five years, officially transitions into the role Dec. 1.
In the weeks since accepting the position, Huggins says she and Becker have met several times, along with Spokane Arts Interim Director Ellen Picken, to prepare for the transition. As executive director, Huggins will manage Spokane Arts' small staff of five, and oversee the organization's mission to support the arts community through grant funding, programming, public art projects and many other areas.
"Being more directly involved in a broad range of disciplines and working with a wider range of artists is something I'm looking forward to with this position," Huggins says.
"I think one of the things that is so wonderful about the writing community is that people have bought into a 'rising tide lifts all boats' philosophy, and I would like to do as much as I can to get that attitude across all disciplines in the arts community."
Huggins also looks forward to working on the acquisition and installation of new public art as part of the Riverfront Park redevelopment project, as well as kicking off the new Spokane Arts Grants Awards (SAGA) program in January.
is funded by a portion of Spokane's 5 percent admissions tax
. Two upcoming community forums
to discuss how these grants should be administered are set for Tue, Nov. 15; one at 11 am and a second at 4 pm, at the Fox Theater. Artists, community organizations and anyone else interested is invited to learn more about SAGA, and to offer insight on how and to whom the grant funding should be distributed. Both forums are free and open to the public, but reservations are requested
After Huggins leaves Get Lit!, an interim director (yet to be announced) will take over the program until EWU hires her replacement sometime early next year.