Alamance Arts Names New Executive Director
Alamance Arts Welcomes New Executive Director
Succeeds and builds on foundation of Retiring Executive Director
Graham, N.C. – Brandon Bruce has been named the new executive director of Alamance Arts, formerly the Alamance County Arts Council. Bruce assumes the role held by long-time director Cary Worthy who retires after 24.5 years of service.
Mr. Bruce joins the 65-year-old organization to fulfill the mission to advocate, support and grow the arts in Alamance County. He brings more than 16 years of arts administration experience, having served as the executive artistic director of the Birmingham Children’s Theatre and held similar positions with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Chicago’s Strawdog and BackStage Theatres. Bruce holds an MFA in theatre from the University of Iowa and a BFA from Kent State University.
Worthy announced his retirement in 2020. After a national search, Mr. Bruce emerged as the natural choice to lead Alamance Arts through the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future, according to Edna Parker, the chair of the Alamance Arts director search committee.
Bruce recognizes the immediate challenges ahead for the organization and the vibrancy of the arts in general due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. He also looks optimistically to the future to build on Worthy’s legacy of advocacy and advancement through public art, community events, national caliber exhibits, financial support for artists and arts organizations, and continuing the rotating exhibits housed in the historic Captain James and Emma Holt White House in Graham, NC. “I’ll bring a passion and fierceness to advocate for and promote the arts. I’ll fight for arts of any kind, anywhere, every time.” Bruce said.
Mr. Bruce officially began his leadership role on January 4. He plans to continue many of the same successful programs and initiatives already in place, especially Worthy’s long-time campaign to bring the arts throughout the county. He has many plans to keep growing because “the arts improve people’s lives. While economic impact for the county can be measured, there is also an intangible, emotional impact that arts exhibitions, arts education, and arts spaces create for people and communities,” Bruce said.
Bruce’s initial love of the arts began in high school, and he focused on acting and directing live performances through college and graduate work. Professionally, he has expanded his work with the arts, artists, and the public through numerous visual and performance roles and then ultimately with the business administration functions needed to successfully create and share arts with others.
“At a young age, I fell in love with the arts and couldn’t get away,” Bruce said. This role as the director of a county-wide arts advocacy organization is a natural progression leveraging his many passions and experiences from the multiple perspectives of arts creation, management, fundraising and development, and performance and public exhibitions planning. This position he says, allows him to further grow and express his, “diverse interest of many forms of art.” Bruce also stated his desire to lean on and, “learn from the diverse backgrounds and expertise of so many talented local artists and the staff,” already in place at Alamance Arts.
Bruce has been working with and learning from Worthy for the past month to ensure a smooth transition. “I commend the Board of Directors for choosing Brandon Bruce as the new executive director. With his skills, talents, knowledge and extensive background in the Arts and nonprofit field, the future of Alamance Arts will be filled with amazing accomplishments, Worthy said.
Past colleagues of Bruce were quick to point out how he is ideal for this role and poised to lead Alamance Arts’ initiatives to even greater heights. “Brandon is highly energetic and creates a momentum around any project he is involved with. He has an incredible knack of getting everyone on board,” Leah Luker, former production manager of the Birmingham Children’s Theater, said. She also noted his ability to, “listen and build relationships, so everyone contributes.”
Ronan Marra, artistic director of the Storefront Theater of Indianapolis, agreed. “He (Bruce) gives a lot, has energy to spare, and creates an infectious energy in everything he does.” Couple his passion and energy with his “desire for high quality and a strong work ethic,” Marra said, “you can expect great things for the arts under his leadership.”
Bruce outlined his vision and goals for Alamance Arts. First and foremost, he said, is to ensure that the arts and arts funding not only survive the pandemic, but then thrive quickly as the pandemic situation stabilizes. To do that, he said, it is vital that artists and arts organization are properly supported, visible and given the opportunity to demonstrate their vibrancy through their creations, performances, and exhibitions. Alamance Arts will need to be on the forefront of an inevitable “new world” likely to emerge as the pandemic subsides in regard to public gatherings and promoting of artistic works through evolving platforms and different ways for the public to experience the arts.
Bruce and his wife, who is with the UNC Health system, currently live in Durham with plans to relocate to Alamance County this summer. He enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, is an avid cyclist, and enjoys learning piano and woodworking in his spare time.
“Alamance Arts is lucky that Mr. Bruce has joined its staff as the new executive director. He will continue moving it onward and upward to benefit the local community for present and future generations. The organization welcomes Mr. Bruce as he begins this journey with us,” Frances Barnes added. She is president of the board of directors for Alamance Arts.
A fixture on S. Main Street in Graham for the last 24 years, Alamance Arts has brought international art exhibits to the community such as Chihuly Glass, the Art of the Brick Legos and the Seward Johnson sculpture (including Embracing Peace in the front yard now.) The arts organization also hosts free musical concerts each summer, provides live theatre to all second graders, offers art classes and camps, and supports local art groups.