Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll announced Monday the selection of Salem resident Deborah Greel to serve as the City’s first ever public art planner. Greel was director of Salem Main Streets from 2001 to 2005 and Executive Director of the Marblehead Arts Association (MAA) from 2006 until last month.
“I am very pleased to announce Deborah’s selection,” said Mayor Driscoll. “She will not only bring a deep familiarity and expertise with the arts, but also an understanding of our own local assets, issues, and challenges here in Salem. Deborah is the perfect person to help the City and our new Public Art Commission carry forward the vision outlined in the public art master plan.”
“I am absolutely thrilled to come back to work in Salem,” said Greel. “I look forward to helping the arts community, via the Public Art Commission, launch a new artistic vision for our wonderful city.”
“I am excited to welcome Deborah back to Salem,” said Bob McCarthy, Ward 1 Councillor and Council President. “She has done great work in Marblehead and will be a terrific addition to our arts community here in Salem.”
“Getting Ms. Greel for this position is a coup for Salem,” said Josh Turiel, Ward 5 Councillor and chair of the Council Committee on Administration and Finance. “Her work in Marblehead has been tremendous and she'll be an excellent addition to the city's leadership. This will help us become a premier arts destination in the Boston area.”
“I’m excited to see Deborah selected for the new public arts position,” said Greel’s Ward Councillor, Ward 2 Councillor Heather Famico. “Deborah is an active member in our community with experience not only in the arts industry but also in directing and working with others. She will make a fantastic addition to the process of working with commission members to implement our city’s public art master plan.”
“I'm looking forward to Ms. Greel bringing her experience and leadership back home to Salem,” said Ward 6 Councillor Beth Gerard, who has been active in Salem’s arts community. “The Marblehead Arts Association is a robust organization and their Festival of Arts has become a premiere event for that town thanks to Ms. Greel’s skills and hard work.”
Under Greel’s leadership at the MAA the organization grew to a membership of over 500 artists from more than 35 communities and 17 states. She arranged exhibitions of over 1,200 works of art annually through a multitude of public exhibits, expanded programming, and led many years of successful fundraising operations. She also oversaw the management and operation of the MAA’s facility, the King Hooper Mansion.
“Her added experience in managing a historic structure as the heart of an arts community makes her even better equipped for this position,” added Mayor Driscoll. “Our proposal is for Deborah to also function as the manager of Salem’s historic Old Town Hall.”
With the City resuming oversight of Old Town Hall, the additional revenues from weddings and other special events booked at the hall will be utilized to fund the new position. A portion of the funding for the public art position will also be provided through a generous donation from the Peabody Essex Museum. Based on these revenue sources the position will be budget neutral.
As director of Salem Main Streets Greel helped lead efforts related to preserving, developing, and enhancing the economic, social, and cultural quality of downtown Salem in the early 2000s. She has served on the boards of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, the Salem Partnership, and the Salem Theatre Company.
In the new position Greel will staff the Public Art Commission in their activities, provide day-to-day support for arts and artists in Salem as their point of contact for City resources and inquiries, and manage the regular operation of Old Town Hall, including booking and staffing events, pursuing funding opportunities for the hall’s ongoing preservation, and ensuring the facility remains open and accessible to the general public as much as feasible. She will also, along with the Commission, serve as a public advocate for the promotion and development of visual, musical, performing, and other arts in Salem.
Additional responsibilities for the position are outlined in the Public Art Master Plan, including: manage commissioning and acquiring works of art, organize and facilitate meetings, prepare and negotiate contracts, perform technical review of artist designs, inspect the final work and coordinate scheduling of installation with artist, ensure that the City’s public art policies are followed, develop and issue the application for Artists’ Row and facilitate the selection of artists, and ensure that the City’s public art collection is properly documented, maintained, and conserved. Greel will assist in the development of materials, programs, and initiatives to inform and engage the public about the City’s public art collection and program, write grants and solicit funds to support the Public Art Initiative, and oversee the review of both donated works of art and of works being considered for de-accession.
The selection of a “lead staff” for public art management is the third action step outlined in the Public Art Master Plan, after adoption of the Ordinance and appointment of the Commission, both of which were recently completed. The public art position is included in the Mayor Driscoll’s proposed FY2015 City budget, which is currently before the Salem City Council.