Newfields‘ 139th Annual Meeting on Wednesday evening became its platform for a number of major announcements about the institution’s present and future. Members of its leadership team and Board of Trustees shared news related to its upcoming exhibitions, leadership and the status of its ongoing plan to be more inclusive at the Toby theater inside the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
And, at the beginning, Indianapolis met the institution’s new CEO in person when Colette Pierce Burnette spoke briefly. Newfields announced Tuesday she would be starting in the position Aug. 1.
Burnette shared her remarks from notes she’d made in a notebook she’d just purchased from the Newfields gift shop.
“I consider it a gift and a blessing when your personal passions and your professional passions intersect and your core values intersect,” Burnette said. “That’s what attracted me to Newfields is that passion about art, nature, history, education, green spaces and innovation and transformation.”
Darrianne Christian, chair of the Board of Trustees, said Burnette was among the first candidates interviewed. And during the process, she learned Burnette was also a candidate advancing in two other job searches.
“This past weekend, I was completely white-knuckling it because I had given Dr. Colette the contract, but I hadn’t received it back and I knew we had this meeting on Wednesday and I knew I wanted her to be here,” Christian said.
New CEO at Newfields: Meet Colette Pierce Burnette
Burnette’s view from inside the fishbowl, as she put it, was different. She said she hoped Newfields would offer her a contract in time for her to tell the other jobs she wanted to take the Indianapolis position.
“We were having anxiety together from different angles,” she said to laughter from the audience.
Here are more highlights from the meeting, which included the announcement of the next subject — “Monet & Friends Alive” — inside the Lume after Vincent van Gogh closes at the end of the month.
The Eighteen will show their work
The artists who created the Black Lives Matter mural on Indiana Avenue in the summer of 2020 will showcase their work as individuals. “We. The Culture: Works by The Eighteen Art Collective” will run from Sept. 23, 2022, to Sept. 24, 2023. Malina Simone Jeffers and Alan Bacon, co-founders of cultural development firm Ganggang, will guest curate.
The original iteration of a planned exhibit by the same artists, called “DRIP: Indy’s #BlackLivesMatter Street Mural,” was set to go up in April 2021. But Ganggang and the artists chose not to proceed with the exhibition as scheduled after a February 2021 firestorm following a museum director job posting that sought to maintain the organization’s “traditional, core, white art audience” while diversifying patrons.
The 2022 exhibit will showcase the artists’ individual perspectives and styles, spotlighting topics including religion and spirituality, queer identity, joy, hip-hop culture, art history and social justice.
Changes to the boards
The Board of Trustees welcomed new members Shane M. Merriweather, Patrick O’Donovan and Adrienne D. Sims for 2022-25. Re-elections include Toni Bader, Nancy Carpenter, Otto Frenzel IV, Sarah Lechleiter, C. Daniel Yates and Christian. Retiring trustees are Katie Betley, Tina Pasquinelli and Michael Robertson.
The changes make the board the most diverse in history, with 31% from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, Christian said. Last year, new board elections brought the total of Board of Trustees’ members of color and from marginalized identities from 8% to almost 25%.
Re-elections to the associate Board of Governors for 2022 to 2025 include Marisol Gouveia and Lily Pai, who was re-elected as chair for the same time period.
Newfields’ action plan after 1 year: Here’s the status of its main goals
More announcements of note
- Chop Stick, the longtime favorite swing set carved from a tree at the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, will be retired now that it has reached the end of its lifespan, said Jonathan Wright, director of the Garden and Fairbanks Park. A site-specific piece will replace it, and more commissioned works will be announced in the future.
- Jerry Wise, interim president and chief financial officer, reported what he called record attendance and record revenue, with Newfields seeing almost 750,000 people visit its campus over the past year.
- The endowment has grown to more than $400 million, he said. A chart Wise showed indicated that Newfields drew 4.75% from it in fiscal year 2022, a percentage that has been decreasing overall since the institution drew more than 7% in fiscal year 2012.
- Newfields has spent almost $2 million of its $20 million endowment devoted to work by artists who are Black, Indigenous and from other underrepresented backgrounds. It’s rolling out some of the works now and will announce more in the future.
- Listening hours with community members will begin again in July.
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