The Board of Directors of the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in New Orleans is excited to announce the selection of George Scheer, PhD, as the organization’s new Executive Director effective October 1. Scheer brings extensive leadership and management experience to the Contemporary Arts Center, including his 16-year tenure as Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elsewhere, a 12,000 sq. ft. living museum, artist residency, and education laboratory set in a former thrift store in Greensboro, North Carolina.
At Elsewhere, Scheer oversaw the creative and operational direction of the three-story museum that included a residency program for more than 50 artists each year, public programming, fellowships, and internships. Scheer also led the capital fundraising, historic building restoration, collection management, and financial management of the organization.
“After an extensive, nationwide search, we are thrilled to have found a leader like George Scheer, whose track record of success in driving the creative and operational direction of a multi-disciplinary arts center will ensure that the CAC is well-poised for the next chapter of our history,” said CAC Board Co-Chair Bryan Bailey.
“Scheer has a strong history of success securing national, regional, and local community foundation support,” said CAC Board Co-Chair Gregg Porter, adding, “He also brings the unique experience of operating and stewarding historic buildings like the CAC, which is vital for our future.”
During his term of leadership at Elsewhere, Scheer developed and directed multiple artists residencies, fellowships, and commissions. Southern Constellations, funded for seven years by the National Endowment for the Arts, offered residencies, fellowships, traveling exhibitions, and state & regional convergences to advance experimental practices across the South.
Exchange Residencies fostered local arts ecologies through incubator residencies with local artists in Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. South Elm Projects explored the immediacy of neighborhood revitalization through 20+ placemaking public art commissions in downtown Greensboro funded by ArtPlace America.
Most recently, George developed Art + Healthcare Residencies in a hospital simulation campus, inviting artists to work alongside nurses to explore the intersection of art, science, and human care. Scheer’s comprehensive approach to community engagement & planning, programming, fund development, and impact assessment, provides a backdrop for his future work at the CAC and demonstrates his commitment to artists and New Orleans’ cultural community.
Earlier in his career, Scheer gained global recognition as Co-Founder and Curator of Kulturpark, a curated site-specific public art exhibition in a former Soviet amusement park located in Berlin. Scheer developed the curatorial framework and managed Kulturpark’s 15 locally based artists, public programming, and educational outreach, while simultaneously producing a three-day design conference with 30 Berlin-based architects, journalists, and district officials.
“The CAC emerged from an artistic impulse 42 years ago into a multi-disciplinary arts center,” said George Scheer. “Today, it is poised to be a touchstone for contemporary art in New Orleans, a critical partner in a national dialogue around art and equity, and an asset to the city’s artist community. It is an honor to be welcomed into New Orleans’ cultural community, to champion the importance of this place and its artists, and to work alongside the CAC’s staff and community to grow the organization’s creative and critical vision.”
As an artist-founder, director, curator, and cultural policy researcher, Scheer brings extensive experience to the artistic and operational aspects of multi-disciplinary arts organizations. His research and field work in cultural policy and urbanism considers the role artists play in housing, transportation, and land development to support trust and resiliency among communities facing development pressures. Scheer cites his own interest in fostering creative communities at the intersection of aesthetics and social change by working with institutions in the fields of art and urbanism, publishing essays on the creative economy, and serving as a lecturer and panelist while supporting local arts initiatives.
“During a rigorous national search, George’s dedication to the arts and artists, as well as his deep administrative and fundraising leadership skills, impressed our committee,” said Search Committee Chair Robyn Dunn Schwarz. “George’s keen interest in the CAC’s artistic impact in our community and at a national level affirmed our belief that he will not only be an asset to the CAC, but also a contributing force to the artistic community of New Orleans.”
New to New Orleans, Scheer hopes immediately to begin making connections in the arts community and beyond that will strengthen partnerships and program offerings at the CAC. Scheer has led numerous strategic arts initiatives, including serving on the City of Greensboro Arts Task Force to develop the city’s first cultural arts master plan and design its office of cultural affairs.
Scheer holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in Communication and Performance Studies; an MA in Critical Theory, Literature, and Visual Studies from Duke University, and a BA from the Annenberg School for Communication, Political Science, Nonprofit, and Government Management from the University of Pennsylvania.
Scheer succeeds MK Wegmann who has served as the Interim Executive Director of the CAC since November of 2018. “We are thrilled that the CAC was able to attract a candidate of George Scheer’s caliber,” said Wegmann. “I am confident that he will advance the CAC’s vision of keeping art, artists, and community at the center of its multi-disciplinary mission to present and promote the art of our time.”