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A few weeks ago, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. formally withdrew support from the current Lucy - Desi Museum, located in Jamestown, New York, and managed by the Arts Council for Chautauqua County. Yesterday it was announced that Philip Morris, executive director of the Arts Council will be leaving that post in March. How this will affect the Arnaz decision is still uncertain. The following article is reprinted from the Jamestown Post-Journal of January 4, 2002.
Morris To Leave Arts Council Post
Director Accepts New Position In Schenectady
Philip Morris, the executive director of the Chautauqua County Arts Council, will be leaving his post in March to become the chief executive officer of Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady. The announcement was made in a joint press release issued by Jane Kidder, Arts Council chairwoman, and Harry Apkarian, chairman of Proctor’s Theater.
Proctor’s Theater is a 2,600-seat downtown historic landmark. According to the news release, it is one of the largest and most successful presenting organizations in the state. In addition to Broadway productions, music, dance and film, the Theater controls a number of adjacent properties in the downtown area that officials want to develop into a cultural district. ‘‘Philip Morris has provided visionary leadership for Chautauqua County and the Jamestown area for almost 25 years, building the Arts Council into one of the most respected and effective arts organizations in the country,’’ Mrs. Kidder said.
The Arts Council board of directors will be appointing an interim director while they conduct a national search for a new director.
Mrs. Kidder cited a number of Morris’ accomplishments while serving the Arts Council, including: the rebirth of the Reg Lenna Civic Center; establishment of the United Arts Appeal for grant support to artists throughout the county; an award-winning Arts-in-Education program that serves thousands of children every year; and the redevelopment of more than 175,000 square feet of downtown Jamestown, including the Time-Warner redevelopment, the Lofts Artist Project, the Wright Conference Facility, and the Lucy-Desi Museum and its gift shop.
‘‘I am delighted for Philip both personally and professionally,’’ Mrs.Kidder said. ‘‘This is a wonderful opportunity for him.’’
Apkarian said Morris will lead the theater at a key time in its development. ‘‘The Proctor Theater is on the verge of major growth, raising arts and entertainment activities in the downtown to new levels, and we felt we needed to upgrade our leadership to the background and skills that Philip brings to the table to do this job right,’’ the Proctor Theater official said.
During Morris’ tenure, the Arts Council has created events ranging from the Labor Day Festival at Bergman Park, to Sculpture and People, to the Lucille Ball Festival of New Comedy. Morris has also received the award for ‘‘Most Innovative Arts Administrator in New York State’’ as well as receiving for the Civic Center the national award of ‘‘Best Renovation of an Historic Theater’’ from the League of American Theaters. He also was recently elected to the position of Fellow of the American Institute for Urban Design in New York City.
‘‘I have personally worked with Philip for all my career in Jamestown,’’said Mayor Sam Teresi. ‘‘We have always seen the same opportunities for making Jamestown vibrant and real and have worked together well to make possible some of the great work of the Arts Council. This is a major move up for Philip in the size of the community and in the resources to make a new dream come true.’’
Betty Lenna, a longtime advocate for the arts in the community, said she will miss working with Morris. ‘‘... His departure will offer a challenging task for replacing him,’’ she said. ‘‘Philip worked tirelessly for the arts community in his innovative ways for the people of the Jamestown area.‘‘
Sue Jones, chairman of the Reg Lenna Civic Center, which is managed by the Arts Council, said, ‘‘We will miss Philip’s skills at attracting some of the finest performers in the country to our little corner of the world. I know that had it not been for Philip’s vision and skills, there would have been far less development in downtown and for Jamestown’s arts district.’’
Tom Becker, vice president of Chautauqua Institution and a past Arts Council chairman, said, ‘‘Philip is passionate about the arts and their place in community — not just as an expression of creative work but as partner in community development. More than any other quality — and there are many such as, intelligence, energy, humor, consideration — more than any of these, Philip’s unrelenting sense of the imperative of action lies beneath his extraordinary contributions to our lives and our experience of community.’’
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