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Arts council remakes itself

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By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The United Arts Council of Greensboro has a new president and is retooling itself to increase local support for the arts.

Jeanie Duncan, director of development who also has served as interim president since John Santuccio stepped down last June, was promoted to president, effective April 1.

Under Duncan, the council’s fund drive exceeded its goal last year and aims to raise even more this year.

Duncan also has helped reorganize the council, which has redefined its mission to “champion the arts for everyone in our community.”

Exiting the major-events business, the council has cancelled the annual CityStage festival and passed to other groups production of the annual African American Arts Festival.

It also has reduced its board to 20 members from 50 and formed two commissions — one to develop financial resources and community involvement, the other to promote arts advocacy and collaboration.

The goal is to strengthen and tie together efforts to involve more people and groups in the arts, and to tap and pool their support.

“The United Arts Council is striving to shape our community’s future by preserving our heritage and ensuring our creative expression,” says Jean King, board chair. “The reorganization focuses us in this direction of promoting the arts in ways that bring people together and improve our quality of life.”

The development commission will map and carry out plans to expand the council’s annual fund drive by $100,000 a year through 2005, expand its planned-giving program and help build endowments for the council and other arts agencies.

Headed by Lee McAllister, president and CEO of Weaver Investments, the new development commission also will promote the arts in the schools and community.

A separate arts commission headed by community volunteer Alice Isaacson will work to develop arts partnerships and raise awareness about the arts’ community impact.

Chairing this year’s annual drive, which aims to raise $1.1 million, up from just over $1 million each of the past two years, is Meg Sternberg, Eastern region president for Senior and Retiree Services, a division of UnitedHealth Group.

Funds raised in the drive are used to provide operating support and other grants for the council’s 14 member agencies, plus grants for another 50 groups and individual artists.

In 2001, the latest year for which comparative data are available, Greensboro raised $5.01 per capita for the arts, 8th-highest among all united arts funds in the U.S.

The council also has teamed up with the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro to work with donors on planned gifts to the $200,000 endowment at the foundation that supports the council’s operations, or to a separate endowment at the foundation set up for local arts agencies.

Duncan, a Greensboro native who joined the council in 1996, was selected through a search headed by Hoyt Phillips, senior vice president for human resources at Jefferson-Pilot Financial.

She previously was director of development for the Greensboro Music Academy, since renamed the Music Academy of North Carolina, and for Hospice in Tampa, Fla.

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