Leadership transition in Office of the Arts finalized

by Laura King / Beacon Staff • February 12, 2015

Left to right, David Howse, Polly Carl, and David Dower co-direct the Office of the Arts.
Courtesy of Mike Ritter
Left to right, David Howse, Polly Carl, and David Dower co-direct the Office of the Arts.
Courtesy of Mike Ritter

Emerson’s Office of the Arts, which oversees the college’s theaters and ArtsEmerson, has recently completed a leadership transition that instated a new three-person team of co-directors. 

The transition began in September when Robert Orchard, the founder and former executive director of ArtsEmerson, announced he would step down and take on the role of creative consultant. Orchard was also the executive director of the Office of the Arts.

At the time, Emerson announced David Dower, then the director of artistic programs at ArtsEmerson, would take over Orchard’s roles, a move confirmed in an email to the Emerson community in October.

Last week, Emerson announced Dower officially assumed Orchard’s roles on Jan. 1, but in a press release, said his titles were vice president of the Office of the Arts and artistic director for ArtsEmerson.

This comes amid a shuffling of leadership positions, announced in October, that led to two administrators leaving the college. Now, Emerson has announced that Dower and two others will co-direct the Office of the Arts and its programs.

Emerson has promoted Polly Carl, the office’s former associate vice president, to creative director for ArtsEmerson. Carl will also continue in her role as director of the Office of the Arts’ online theater community HowlRound. David Howse has joined the college to become the managing director for the Office of the Arts and ArtsEmerson, according to the press release. He had been the executive director of the Boston Children’s Chorus for 11 years.

Both Howse and Dower will have contributing editor roles with HowlRound.

“It’s a young organization with a real young, forward-thinking set of ideas about how it impacts the college, how it impacts the city, and how it impacts the field,” Dower said in an interview with the Beacon. “That’s a really broad set of expertise that’s required to manage all of that, and so the leadership structure is meant to support that.” 

The new team plans to focus on opportunities to include diversity and community engagement into the arts, according to the press release.

“To do what we want to accomplish, we think, is going to take three people,” Carl said in an interview with the Beacon.

Within the transition, the roles of director of artistic programs, Dower’s previous title, and director of external affairs were eliminated in order to streamline the budget, said Dower. Dower had also asked the previous managing editor to step down because the position’s responsibilities were changing, according to the October email.

Carl said there will be additional staff hires to accommodate her added role at ArtsEmerson and her current work with HowlRound.

“There’s an evolving approach to civic engagement opportunities,” said Dower. “But ultimately the programming remains the same.”