The DeVos Institute of Arts Management, founded in 2001 by Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser and based at the center since then, will move to the University of Maryland’s College Park campus effective Sept. 1.
Kaiser, who was to have stepped down as head of the Kennedy Center at the end of 2014, will depart four months earlier in order to lead the arts management program, together with Brett Egan, its current director.
The institute offers training and support for arts managers and members of arts organization boards. In addition to activities held for participants at the Kennedy Center, Kaiser has led institute sessions throughout the United States and more than 70 countries. Those out-of-the-area sessions will continue, but much of the activity will take place at UM.
“As the institute has grown, we wanted to do more, and this is a great way to expand,” Kaiser said of the UM affiliation. “We can add more academic work to the program. And we have the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center to use as a training ground.”
UM president Wallace Loh said that students on the campus “are thrilled to know that someone of Michael’s caliber is coming to the campus.” Loh also said that an academic degree in arts management “is very much a possibility” in the future. “It is something that faculty in the arts department have been talking about for some time,” he said.
Kaiser, whose career included much-praised stewardships at the Royal Opera House in London, American Ballet Theatre, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater before he arrived at the Kennedy Center, is a major figure in the arts management field.
His advice, which famously included a plea to arts groups to do more during economic downturns, not less, is invariably discussed and considered throughout the cultural community.
The DeVos Institute, named for donors Betsy and Dick DeVos, provided a framework for Kaiser and other Kennedy Center staffers to offer intensive training in fundraising, artistic planning and ways to strengthen boards of directors.
“The affiliation of a long-standing and very prominent program of the Kennedy Center will not be big in terms of space required,” Loh said, “but it will be big in terms of the impact on the arts and the signal it sends to the university and the rest of the world. We will continue to be a very strong science and technology university, but now we will also be elevating the profile of the arts.”
Kaiser’s early departure from the Kennedy Center is “totally amicable,” he said. Leaving on Aug. 31, 2014, instead of Dec. 31, allows a successor to take over the center at the beginning of the 2014-15 season, and allows Kaiser to be with the institute as the academic year starts.
A search for the next Kennedy Center president has been underway for more than a year.
In a statement released Tuesday, Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein wished Kaiser “the greatest of success as he guides his life’s work to its full potential at the University of Maryland where the institute can benefit from the resources of a major educational institution. We look forward to future collaborations between the institute and the Center.”
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