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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Arts Center Names New Exec Director

The Westport Arts Center (WAC) has named Peter A.H. Van Heerden, a South African educator in the performance arts and himself a much talked about performance artist, as its new executive director effective July 1. WestportNow.com Image
Peter Van Heerden: “honored and excited” in new position. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

He succeeds Nancy Heller, who stepped down from the position in January to spend more time with her teenage children. (See WestportNow Oct. 27, 2010)

Van Heerden brings to the Westport Arts Center 14 years experience as an educator in the performing arts, 12 years as an artistic director and two years as a development director, an announcement said. It said he recently moved to Westport from South Africa. 

”We strongly believe that in Peter we have found an executive director who possesses the interpersonal and leadership qualities necessary to lead the Arts Center staff, partner with the board and make strong connections within our community,” said Lance Lundberg, WAC board president. 

“I have complete confidence in Peter’s ability to lead the Arts Center in fulfilling its mission to the community and achieving our shared vision for its future.”

In his new position, Van Heerden will be responsible for strategic direction for programming as well as fund-raising initiatives, special events, financial targets and cultivating community and business leaders, the announcement said.

The announcement said that from 2004 through 2010, Van Heerden was founder and artistic director of The Erf 81 Cultural Collective, in Cape Town. It described the group as a nonprofit organization in which artists, performers, historians, architects and interested cultural parties develop and produce creative projects in theater, art and new media.

In 2007, The New York Times highlighted Van Heerden’s work as a performance artist in an attention getting presentation titled “6 minutes.” It said he was “one of a new generation of theater artists who are trying to define their roles and searching for new subject matter in a post-apartheid South Africa.”

“The Westport Arts Center is developing and implementing some of the most innovative and dynamic art and community-based educational programs in Fairfield County and the greater surrounding metro area,” said Van Heerden in a statement. 

“This diverse range of programs is having a profound impact on the community by ensuring art is accessible, approachable and an enriching part of all participants’ lives.

“By continuing this positive momentum, we have the opportunity to establish WAC as a leading force in the field of art and culture. As an advocate for arts and education, I am honored and excited to be part of such an amazing team devoted to the advancement of art in our community.”

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Posted 03/31/11 at 06:08 PM  Permalink



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