On Monday April 18, Karen Wiley announced her plans to retire as President and CEO of Arts Fort Worth. Over the past seven years, Ms. Wiley has realized great opportunities to expand on the achievements of the Arts Council of Fort Worth. Under Ms. Wiley’s leadership, the Arts Council, which was founded in 1963, recently rebranded as Arts Fort Worth, reflecting changes that allowed the organization to build on its positive legacy while reinvigorating its commitment to serve and respond to the needs of all local artists, arts organizations, and residents of the city.
Whether Fort Worth residents are among the 80,000 annual visitors to the Arts Center’s galleries and theaters, spending time near one of the 145 works of Public Art in Fort Worth, or experiencing art presented by over 30 Arts Fort Worth grant recipient nonprofits, members of the public have likely seen firsthand the impact of Arts Fort Worth under Karen Wiley’s leadership.
"It has been an honor to serve as President of Arts Fort Worth for the past seven years and one of the most rewarding experiences in my career, " said Karen Wiley, “It has been an incredible journey to serve alongside an amazing team whose focus has always been and continues to be one of acting out the engagement of arts for all. Three simple words that activate the depth and breadth of the creative spirit that lives within each one of us. As I say my farewells, I extend to you an invitation to engage with the creative community of Arts Fort Worth and help to shape its future successes."
In the uncertain early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Wiley’s calm stewardship led Arts Fort Worth through new opportunities, including new programming, while prioritizing the health and safety of staff and the public. Arts Fort Worth quickly developed the Arts Nonprofit Relief Fund, helping Fort Worth arts organizations, and the 14,400 people they employ each year, to continue and adapt their operations. Her advocacy extended beyond Fort Worth when she was invited by Americans for the Arts as one of five arts leaders to meet with members of Congress and speak to the significance of the cultural and economic impact of the arts in Texas and across the United States.
Ms. Wiley deepened Arts Fort Worth's dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access through staff training, public workshops, and specialized grants, encouraging staff and board members to prioritize DEIA in every aspect of the organization. As Arts Fort Worth continues this work internally, they also expanded those efforts to build a more equitable arts community. Under Ms. Wiley’s leadership, the DEIA Capacity Building Grant was launched. In 2022, 12 organizations were awarded grants to strengthen their infrastructure, management, and governance through diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible organizational practices.
“The Arts Fort Worth Board and staff are united in their support of this decision and are proud to have spent so many prosperous years building the organization with Karen at the helm. We celebrate Karen’s tenure as an era of unprecedented organizational achievement and look forward to building on that legacy with new opportunities,” said Jared Sloane, Chair, Arts Fort Worth Board of Directors.
At this pinnacle and moving into the 60th anniversary of the organization, Arts Fort Worth looks forward with confidence to delivering a new strategic vision that continues onto a new phase of success.
Karen Wiley will remain the CEO and President through June 30, 2022, to see Arts Fort Worth through its current strategic planning process. The Board of Directors has begun its process to fill the CEO position, seeking a new leader who upholds Arts Fort Worth’s values of inclusive collaboration, advocacy, and integrity.
Please join us in congratulating Ms. Wiley on her extensive career and tenure at Arts Fort Worth at a reception on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, from 5:30-8:00 p.m. at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, 1300 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76017. The event is free to attend, but we kindly request that guests RSVP by emailing TalkTo@artsfortworth.org or by calling Arts Fort Worth’s offices at (817) 738-1938.