Armory Center for the Arts Executive Director Scott Ward has announced his retirement from the nationally-recognized contemporary arts center, effective June 30, 2018. Nonprofit and donor-supported, Armory Center for the Arts is the Los Angeles region’s leading independent institution for contemporary art exhibitions and community arts education. In his 17 years as Executive Director, Ward has significantly increased the Armory's endowment, operating budget, geographic reach, breadth of service, and has deepened the Armory's longstanding commitment to delivering meaningful art experiences to underserved populations, both in Pasadena and throughout greater Los Angeles. Ward is only the second Executive Director in the Armory's 28 year history, succeeding founding director Elisa Callow in 2001.
A commitment to community building through collaboration and strategic partnerships is a hallmark of Ward's tenure. "I have often referred to the Armory as among the top echelon of international models for arts education and arts engagement," said Craig Watson, past-Director of the California Arts Council and the Armory's founding Board President. "This well-earned reputation is tied directly to Scott's vision for a center that celebrates artists and artistry and, at the same time, collaborates broadly around the themes of social justice, inclusion, and community building." Other partnership highlights from Ward's tenure include:
- artWORKS Teen Center - Located in East Pasadena, artWORKS is a collaboration between the Armory and Learning Works Charter School. Taught by Armory Teaching Artists, artWORKS after-school classes are free for Middle School and High School students and include sound engineering, guitar performance, aerosol art, screen printing, photography, life drawing, and media arts.
- Learning Works @ Homeboy Industries - Also in collaboration with Learning Works Charter School, the Armory provides free art classes at this continuation high school in Boyle Heights. Students are clients of Homeboy Industries, the world-renowned social enterprise organization that provides counseling, legal services, tattoo removal, GED classes, job training, and employment services for former gang members and the recently incarcerated.
- Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN) - The Armory is a founding member of, and Ward serves on the governance council for this collaborative effort among nine arts organizations who provide exceptional arts programming to incarcerated teens in LA County detention facilities.
In November of 2015, Ward represented the Armory's Art High program at a White House ceremony to accept the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama—an accolade the White House calls the highest honor for after school art programs in the Nation. Under Ward's leadership, the Armory's Art High program has made free after school art classes and mentorship opportunities readily accessible to teens at parks, schools, and community centers since 2006. First presented in 1998, the award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
At the core of the Armory's mission is the belief that an understanding and appreciation of the arts is essential for a well-rounded human experience and a healthy civic community. Under Ward's stewardship, the Armory presented more than 100 critically-acclaimed contemporary art exhibitions that have inspired dialogue around contemporary life, contributed to global discourses in contemporary art, and introduced contemporary visual art to Pasadena, Southern California, and beyond. Exhibition highlights have included ambitious public projects from artist Daniel Buren, Yoko Ono, Martin Kersels, Jorge Pardo, and the late Chris Burden; surveys showcasing work by Jill Giegerich, Jirayr Zorthian, Richard Feynman, Steve Roden, Robert Rauschenberg, Faith Wilding, and Connie Samaras; two Getty-initiated Pacific Standard Time exhibitions; and public performance for 5,000 spectators at Brookside Park in Pasadena by Richard Jackson, who flew and crashed a radio-controlled, model military plane with a fifteen-foot wingspan (filled with paint) into a twenty-foot wall bearing the inscription "Accidents in Abstract Painting."
"We have been incredibly fortunate to have had Scott's leadership these last 17 years, and we wish him a fun-filled retirement." said Armory Board President Maria Kader Karp. "He has really transformed the Armory into a thriving arts organization the local, state, and national level. We are excited about the future and the board is officially in full search mode for our new executive director." By early December, the board expects to decide upon a national search firm to find the Armory's third Executive Director. On April 14, 2018, the Armory will honor and celebrate Ward's indelible legacy at the organization's annual benefit.
Image courtesy Pasadena Now