Earlier this month, we sat down with Bruce Davis, the new President and CEO of ArtsKC. Our city’s regional arts council is at the forefront of Kansas City’s cultural growth, and Bruce understands the hard work ahead of him to continue that progress. But he brings a wealth of experience from his executive position at the arts council of Silicon Valley, and though he isn’t sure of his favorite Kansas City barbeque restaurant just yet, he does have a plan to “build upon the excellence of the existing arts ecosystem.”
What is your vision for the arts council?
Bruce is one hundred percent behind the organization’s new mission statement: to unleash the power of the arts.
“We’re behind the scenes, and our job is to elevate the rest of the arts community. As we start ramping up our advocacy and our marketing for the arts, we’re going to try to lift the whole visibility for the entire arts community. I have a track record doing that,” he says.
During his time at the Arts Council of Silicon Valley, Bruce created Artsopolis, an arts marketing software that features an online cultural calendar. Artsopolis has been franchised in more than 50 communities across the nation, and if ArtsKC can secure mutually beneficial partnerships, Bruce hopes to bring it to Kansas City.
What challenges are you going to face?
Brue says his biggest challenge will be literally learning how to get around town. He is uneasy about not knowing the geography of the city.
“He knows the hard stuff, and that’s why we hired him. We can drive him everywhere,” laughs Brenda Clevenger, Director of Marketing and Communications for ArtsKC.
Bruce is also anxious to get settled in. He’s open to suggestions on what neighborhood to move to.
“I really am just learning about the community, but I come with a sense of discovery. The first ninety days will be a rip-roaring tour of meeting people and saying hello.” Bruce says the vibe he feels from Kansas City is the right vibe.
What do you like most about being an executive director?
“Raising money! I love doing what everybody tells me is impossible. I like doing something that I see will be positive and a cultural contribution. When someone says it can’t be done, if I believe it can be done, then I just don’t believe them.”
Bruce actually fell into his first executive director position on accident. Working as a singer/songwriter, he was asked to be on the board of an arts festival. After successfully securing significant support for the organization, he was asked to step into the leadership role. Bruce’s biggest surprise as a first time executive? He didn’t have time to attend all of the performances anymore.
What is your favorite barbeque restaurant in Kansas City so far?
Bruce laments that he hasn’t been able to try any barbeque. We’ll give him a break since he’s only been in town for a couple weeks. Which restaurant should Bruce visit first? Tweet your best barbeque recommendation to @artskc!
We can’t wait to see what ArtsKC achieves with Bruce at its helm, and we’re excited for the new perspective that he will contribute to the nonprofit sector in Kansas City. In the meantime, Bruce is excited for April 3, because he recently converted to become a dedicated Royals fan.
ArtsKC is a member of Nonprofit Connect. Learn more at Artskc.org.