W-S Arts Council Leader Jim Sparrow To Step Down
Jim Sparrow, the president and CEO of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County’s Arts Council, is leaving at the end of the month after heading the organization for five years.
He’s returning to the Indiana city he lived in before moving here, where he’ll run the Fort Wayne Ballet.
He spoke to WFDD earlier this year after the council’s fundraising goal came up $350,000 short. Sparrow said then the organization had to refocus its efforts because the corporate philanthropy that had sustained it for decades was no longer there.
“Every town had a series of one, two, or three corporations that were there — and legacy types of organizations — and this was a mechanism that allowed them to give to one organization that helped manage this for the community at large,” he said in a February interview with WFDD. “That has changed over the years. And Winston has been one of the few towns that I’ve been in that still was operating very much like it was in the 80s and 90s based on that corporate model that many communities just no longer operate under."
“There’s a long list of companies that have merged and changed and if they haven’t merged or changed or left town, in many cases they’re not owned locally anymore,” he said.
The gap led to cutbacks at some of the city’s well-known institutions.
Sparrow has worked to create a stronger downtown theater district.
The council sold its long-standing theater building on Coliseum Boulevard. And both the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem have announced plans to move closer to the center of downtown.
Arts Council officials say they will begin the search for Sparrow’s replacement immediately.
“We are also in the final months of our annual United Arts Fund campaign, and we are going to redouble our efforts on this front so our new President and CEO can start from the strongest possible position,” Rick Moss, chairman of the Arts Council Board said.
“Change is inevitable in both the corporate and nonprofit communities,” Moss said. “It represents both challenges and opportunities. We have a strong, diverse board that is prepared to move forward and provide leadership that will assure that The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County serves Winston-Salem and Forsyth County efficiently and effectively and retains The Council’s position as one of the leading community arts organizations in the nation.”