Despite the Courant’s 2009 prediction that the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s leader would return from a stint in Florida, the Connecticut Post got the exclusive over the weekend that Ken Kahn has been named the new “arts czar” for the Bridgeport Arts & Cultural Council, a non-profit which has been in the formation stage for many years.
My question is, what does this mean if you’re a struggling Read’s building artist? Also, what is the Werth Family Foundation and how do I invites someone there for lunch?
Here’s the story by Phyllis A.S. Boros:
Kenneth R. Kahn, who has a national reputation for successfully developing and expanding arts organizations — some with multimillion dollar budgets — has agreed to head Bridgeport’s fledgling Arts & Cultural Council.
A resident of Hartford, the semi-retired Kahn will immediately take on Bridgeport — long devoid of a marketing arm to promote its quality-of-life assets — “as his next challenge,” it was announced by Robbin Zella, director of the Housatonic Museum of Art and one of the community activists instrumental in the group’s formation.
Inasmuch as a vibrant arts and cultural community is considered key to the city’s economic growth, a functioning, thriving arts council is seen by many as essential to Bridgeport’s continued renaissance, Kahn and Zella agreed.
His position of executive director, which is part-time, comes with a $30,000 salary.
The council got off to a rocky start earlier this year, soon after Penny Harrison, of Charlottesville and White Stone, Va., was appointed to the position. At the time Harrison, a Washington, D.C., marketing veteran, said she would commute to Bridgeport from Virginia 10 days a month, staying at a rented apartment while here. The economic realities of the situation proved prohibitive, however, forcing Harrison to soon withdraw from the scene, leaving the post vacant for the past few months, Zella said.
Kahn said last week that he plans to be in Bridgeport, commuting from his Hartford home, Tuesday through Thursday each week, working from an office at Housatonic Community College, which has agreed to donate space to the council through 2011.
From 1999 to 2009, Kahn served as executive director of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the largest independent arts council in the New England, with an operating budget hovering near $5 million. Most recently, Kahn accepted a temporary consulting assignment, serving as administrator for Florida’s Broward County Cultural Division’s public art and design program.
A painter, author, lecturer, art instructor and former editor/director of research at Reader’s Digest special and international books division, Kahn has served as president of the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas; executive director of the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council; and executive director of the Maryland State Arts Council.
“It’s time that Bridgeport gets the respect it’s due,” Kahn said, noting that the Park City boasts legions of individual performing and visual artists and arts/heritage/science/cultural attractions that are the envy of area communities — attractions such as the Barnum and Discovery museums, Greater Bridgeport Symphony, Klein Memorial Auditorium, Cabaret and Playhouse on the Green theaters, City Lights Gallery and zoo.
Providing first-year funding for the council are the Fairfield County Community Foundation, $25,000; the Werth Family Foundation of Woodbridge, $15,000; the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, $5,000; and the city of Bridgeport, $2,000.
Until a permanent office is established for Kahn at HCC, he may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.