By Pepper Parr
April 7, 2015
The Art Gallery of Burlington announced today that they have appointed Robert Steven as its new President & CEO. Mr. Steven will assume his new post on 4 May 2015.
In a media release the AGB said: “The Board of Directors was looking for a very special leader who is capable of taking the Art Gallery of Burlington to the profile appropriate for the home of Canada’s largest collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics and to the level of community engagement that will best contribute to the quality of life of this city and region.
We have found that leader in Robert Steven,” said Sandra Edrupt, Chair of the AGB Board. “We value Steven’s strategic business mind and believe that he can build synergy from our unique identity as both an art gallery and the home to the guilds of Arts Burlington.”
One of only 50 Canadian alumni of the prestigious Getty Museum Leadership Institute in Los Angeles, Steven’s educational background includes a Master of Museum Studies at the University of Toronto and a Fine Arts degree from the University of Waterloo.
Steven currently manages the Culture and Heritage Department of the City of Grande Prairie, where he oversees the City’s various cultural and heritage infrastructure and investments, including the three branches of the municipal museum. He caught the attention of the City of Grande Prairie, and now the Board of the Art Gallery of Burlington, through his impressive leadership of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie, an organization that he transformed, expanded, professionalized, and modernized over his seven and one-half years of service as both its Executive Director and Curator.
His successes in Grande Prairie led to his recognition with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Premier of Alberta in 2012 and the Alberta Venture Magazine’s selection of him as one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People for 2013.
Originally from Ontario, Steven’s earlier professional arts experience included rapidly increasing authority and responsibility at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery during a period of significant growth and change from 2001 to 2006. This encompassed roles as Preparator, Collections Management Project Manager, and Registrar.
“Combining Robert’s strong arts executive and municipal leadership experience, with the strength of our Chief Curator, Dr. Denis Longchamps, who also heads collections and educational programming, we will have the leadership team that we need to take the Art Gallery of Burlington to the next level,” said Edrupt.
Many thought Longchamps would succeed Ian Ross who left the President and CEO role at the gallery on rather short notice after a 20+ year stint.
Kim Varian who led development for the AGB also left the gallery to work with her husband on the family business. Varian will continue with the AGB in a consulting and support capacity.
Grande Prairie has a population of 55,000+;median age is 30; average income is in the $126,000 range; a two bedroom apartment comes in at $1,115 a month – and here is the shocker for Steven – average house price is in the $316,000
All this means that Anne Swarbrick, who was serving as the interim President and CEO can now return to what must be her third attempt at retirement