Sharon Louden To Step Down As Artistic Director Of Chautauqua Visual Arts
School of Art Program to Pause in 2023 During National Search for New Artistic Director
Chautauqua Institution today announced the forthcoming departure of Sharon Louden as the Sydelle Sonkin and Herb Siegel Artistic Director of Chautauqua Visual Arts (CVA). CVA’s School of Art program will be paused in 2023 while leaders conduct a national search for a new artistic director. Louden, a nationally recognized artist, educator and advocate for artists, departs after four transformative years at the helm of the Institution’s resident visual arts program. She will step down effective Dec. 31.
“We are so grateful to Sharon for sharing her many gifts as an artist and leader in service of Chautauqua Institution’s mission. Her work and advocacy on behalf of art and artists has left a remarkable legacy here, and we know she will continue to be a force for good in the art world as she moves on to a new chapter,” said Laura Savia, vice president of performing and visual arts for the Institution. “Sharon leaves very big shoes to fill, and we are committed to taking the time and space to be intentional and consider all the ways we can build on the positive changes she and her team have effected here. We look forward over the next year to engaging with industry experts to understand their needs, and how Chautauqua and our visual arts program can uniquely serve them after three disruptive years of COVID.”
Under Louden’s leadership, CVA’s School of Art program achieved national renown, breaking application records year-over-year and establishing more than 60 partnerships with colleges, universities, and organizations to support resident scholarships. Community-led scholarship support also reached record levels, with the grassroots volunteer group Friends of CVA working closely with CVA staff on signature fundraising events such as Strohl Through the Arts. In total, the program enrolled more than 150 artists during Louden’s tenure and saw meaningful increases in the diversity of participants in terms of race/ethnicity, age and gender. “Sharon demonstrated a steadfast commitment in attracting stellar, diverse artists to our program because she was intentional in creating a learning community that valued the unique perspectives and gifts of each artist,” said Amit Taneja, senior vice president and chief IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility) officer. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Louden and her staff pioneered online-only and hybrid models to continue instruction when many other residency programs were shuttered.
For CVA overall, Louden led efforts to shift the program’s world-class galleries toward more contemporary programming supported by a revenue-generating sponsorship initiative. She also nurtured new key relationships with regional institutions including the Seneca Iroquois National Museum, the Erie Art Museum, Erie Arts and Culture, the Greater Erie Alliance for Equity, and the Schweinfurth Arts Center.
“I am very proud of the tremendous accomplishments and milestones we reached at Chautauqua Visual Arts over the past four years, not the least of which included amplifying underrepresented artists’ voices from across the United States and abroad and across generations aged between 21 and 77. Many artists from different cultures participated in our programming from all levels of educational backgrounds, including those with no formal arts education,” Louden said. “After achieving so much of what we set out to do, I am enthusiastically making space by stepping aside for the next iteration of CVA leadership to take the reins of this robust program into the future.”
2023 Chautauqua Visual Arts offerings will include the Chautauqua Visual Arts galleries, presenting the traditional nine public art exhibitions at Strohl Art Center and Fowler-Kellogg Art Center under the leadership of Judy Barie, the Susan and John Turben Director of CVA Galleries. Some Visual Arts Special Studies classes traditionally offered by School of Art personnel will not be offered in 2023. Other favorite Visual Arts classes will continue to be held through Special Studies offerings. The full Special Studies catalogue will be released in May, with registration beginning June 1. Information about the national search for CVA’s next artistic director will be posted at chq.org/employment in early 2023. Inquiries may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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