Nat­u­ral artist brings ‘Open Or­chard’ to McColl Cen­ter

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN Cor­re­spon­dent

The Mint Mu­seum has an­nounced its new pres­i­dent and CEO: Todd Her­man, cur­rently ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Arkansas Arts Cen­ter in Lit­tle Rock.

He’s been a cu­ra­tor, art his­to­rian, col­lege pro­fes­sor and arts ad­min­is­tra­tor. The Penn­syl­va­nia-born Her­man has South­ern ties, mostly from six years at Columbia Mu­seum of Art 90 miles down In­ter­state 77. But the key qual­ity in his back­ground may be an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy.

“Mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gists gather a lot of data, study­ing ev­ery­thing they can be­fore de­cid­ing which direc­tion to go,” Her­man said Tues­day by phone. “My first task at the Mint will be to sit down with the staff, talk­ing to them about the Mint’s po­ten­tial, what is­sues need to be ad- dressed, how they feel the mis­sion is mov­ing for­ward. Then I’ll do the same with board mem­bers, arts lead­ers and civic lead­ers, find­ing out what peo­ple out­side the walls think about the Mint.

“From there, I can de­vise a plan to (make sure) we de­liver in a way that meets the needs of as many peo­ple as we can. There aren’t any sil­ver bul­lets; you can’t come in and over­lay ideas about how you think things should go. It won’t hap­pen in a month or two months or three.”

At­ten­tion to de­tail was one

virtue that at­tracted the Mint’s board of direc­tors to Her­man. So was ver­sa­til­ity. In his seven years at Arkansas Arts Cen­ter, he raised $16 mil­lion to re­pay debt and in­crease an endowment, and hired new cu­ra­tors to ex­pand ex­hi­bi­tion pro­grams.

There he has over­seen a $6.2 mil­lion bud­get and man­aged 50 full-time and 30 part-time em­ploy­ees and 350 vol­un­teers. At the Mint, he will over­see a $10.1 mil­lion bud­get and man­age 54 full-time and 23 part-time em­ploy­ees and 1,200 vol­un­teers. (Be­fore Arkansas, he spent six years as chief cu­ra­tor in Columbia and seven years at the Cleve­land Mu­seum of Art.)

“It be­came very clear how dif­fi­cult it was to find some­one with a cu­ra­to­rial back­ground, cred­i­bil­ity in the art world and busi­ness and man­age­ment skills,” said We­ston An­dress, re­gional pres­i­dent of Western Carolina for PNC Bank and head of the Mint’s search com­mit­tee.

“Todd’s a pre­mium leader for a mu­seum. He in­creased at­ten­dance lev­els (in Lit­tle Rock) by about 30 per­cent, over­saw a build­ing cam­paign, im­proved the ex­hi­bi­tion sched­ule and raised money. He stood head and shoul­ders above the crowd.” (The jour­nal Arkansas Busi­ness, which holds an an­nual Busi­ness of the Year com­pe­ti­tion, named him Non­profit Ex­ec­u­tive of the Year in March.)

Bruce LaRowe has been serv­ing as the Mint’s in­terim pres­i­dent and CEO; he stepped into the role af­ter the Mint an­nounced last April that Kathleen Jame­son would step down af­ter seven years. LaRowe will re­main at the helm un­til Her­man can move to Char­lotte with his part­ner, Harry Ger­ard, and their dogs, Abby and Lola. Her­man ex­pects to hit the ground run­ning when he ar­rives, and the con­cepts most on his mind are col­lab­o­ra­tion and rel­e­vance.

“Char­lotte’s a vi­brant, grow­ing city,” he said. “I want to make the Mint more a part of the over­all cul­tural fab­ric. It has a lot to of­fer: its col­lec­tion, its tal­ent, two lo­ca­tions that put it right in the mid­dle of the com­mu­nity. We need to bring cul­ture to as broad an au­di­ence as pos­si­ble.

“Ev­ery place I’ve been, I’ve wanted to col­lab­o­rate with all the arts or­ga­ni­za­tions and the non-arts or­ga­ni­za­tions to broaden the reach of the mis­sion. There are a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties in Char­lotte for the Mint to be at the ta­ble as that hap­pens.”

Ja­son Masters / Lit­tle Rock Soirée mag­a­zine

Todd Her­man will be The Mint’s new pres­i­dent.

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