The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts has named Todd Yuhanick its interim CEO as the organization works to permanently fill the opening left by the January departure of its embattled leader Donna Drew Sawyer.
BOPA’s board of directors said Yuhanick will take over the role June 2, according to a news release Thursday.
Yuhanick “brings a fierce passion for the arts and a keen appreciation for the ability of expansive cultural and artistic programming to lift the sights and prospects of City residents,” said Brian D. Lyles, president of BOPA and chair of its board, in the release.
The interim CEO is a Baltimore County native with experience in public relations, video and film production. He has produced several documentary and film projects for TV and streaming services.
Yuhanick, 47, said BOPA “will support and empower local creatives, collaborate closely with cultural institutions, and ensure that artistic and cultural programming thrives and reaches the widest possible audience in every part of our community.”
BOPA said its search committee, which includes board members and arts community leaders, will be reviewing candidates for the permanent CEO position in the coming weeks. A job description will be posted June 12 at the BOPA website, promotionandarts.org.
Over the past 18 months, BOPA has had a contentious relationship with the city. At different times Sawyer was at odds with members of the Baltimore City Council and with Mayor Brandon Scott, who ultimately demanded that the board remove Sawyer as CEO in January, one day after BOPA announced that it was canceling the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade for the third consecutive year.
BOPA also is responsible for organizing Artscape, which before the pandemic attracted about 350,000 visitors annually to the city. Following a three-year hiatus, the festival is expected to return Sept. 20-24.
In budget hearings in Baltimore on Wednesday, Baltimore Solicitor Ebony Thompson told members of the Baltimore City Council that BOPA had attempted to trademark the name Artscape in 2021 but was rebuffed by city attorneys.