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My Town Kalamazoo: KIA names new executive director | Arts & Culture

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My Town Kalamazoo: KIA names new executive director
My Town Kalamazoo: KIA names new executive director


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KALAMAZOO, Mich. – After 15 years as director of the renowned Diggs Gallery, one of the nation’s top African American art galleries, Belinda Ann Tate is coming to Kalamazoo as the new executive director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

Tate was the top choice in a national search to succeed James Bridenstine, who announced last year he would retire in 2014 after 24 years. Tate will join the KIA on Sept. 8.

“Kalamazoo has a stellar reputation for supporting the arts and the KIA. I’m eager to build on that support, especially as KIA celebrates its 90th birthday. It’s a privilege to become part of this outstanding institute and the West Michigan arts community,” Tate said.

Tate led the Diggs Gallery, located at Winston-Salem (North Carolina) State University, since 1999. During her tenure, the gallery increased its permanent collection by 20 percent to include works by John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Al Loving, Ed Clark, Howardena Pindell, Hank Willis Thomas, Sheila Pree Bright and Willie Birch, along with traditional African art. Tate also grew student participation immensely, from 20 percent in 1999 to a peak of 83 percent in 2010. She has been recognized for engaging the community as an enthusiastic champion for the arts. Born and raised in Winston-Salem, Tate earned a master of arts degree in liberal studies from Wake Forest University. She received a bachelor of arts in art history from Yale Universitywith a concentration in museum studies. Tate also studied conservation and connoisseurship at Yale Graduate School, and British art and architecture at the Paul Mellon Center in London, England. She is a regular lecturer and writer on the arts. Further, Tate’s experience includes community service as well as business and financial expertise gained as a banker with Wachovia (now Wells Fargo). James Carter, who led the KIA board’s Selection Committee, said Tate was the clear choice to lead the institute. “We reviewed many quality candidates from across the country, but Belinda demonstrated the right mix of talent, knowledge and energy. She’s a great fit for KIA and Kalamazoo,” Carter said. Ronda Stryker and William U. Parfet, both members of the Selection Committee, echoed Carter’s sentiments. “The KIA and the local arts have benefitted immensely from strong leaders over the past 90 years,” said Stryker.“Belinda will continue that legacy of leadership. The KIA is in good hands.” “It’s heartening to be part of a national search process and see so many talented candidates, especially Belinda, excited about coming to Kalamazoo,” Parfet added. “Belinda is the right person in the right place to lead the KIA into the future.” “We’re honored to have Belinda join the KIA,” said Nancy Springgate, president of the KIA board of directors. “She brings rich experience and passion for the arts along with a strong community ethic that’s key to the KIA’s next chapter.” Springgate also praised Bridenstine for his years of leadership, which included remaining with the institute during the search for his successor. “Jim has built a powerful beacon for the arts in the KIA,” Springgate said. “He brought many national-level exhibits here, deepened the KIA’s collection and created a rich arts culture that’s the envy of communities across the country. The Board is profoundly grateful for his dedication, and we wish him the best in his well-earned retirement.” About the Kalamazoo Institute of ArtsThe KIA is a nonprofit art museum and school. Since 1924, the institute has offered art classes, exhibitions, lectures, events, activities and a permanent collection that now includes more than 4,200 pieces ranging from American paintings, European and American prints and photographs, and pre-Columbian gold. Celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2014, the KIA's mission is to cultivate the creation and appreciation of the visual arts in West Michigan.