The City of Mesa Appoints Richard M. Parison, Jr. as Director of Arts and Culture

A headshot of Richard M. Parison, Jr., Director of Arts and Culture at the City of Mesa and Mesa Arts Center.The City of Mesa has selected Richard M. Parison, Jr. as Director of Arts and Culture, following an executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). He will begin his tenure on February 6, 2024.

In this senior leadership role, Parison, Jr. will oversee Mesa’s esteemed cultural institutions, including the City’s three owned-and-operated museums: i.d.e.a. Museum, Arizona Museum of Natural History, and Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. Additionally, he will serve as the Executive Director of the Mesa Arts Center.

Parison, Jr. brings over three decades of leadership within the arts and culture sector and a demonstrated commitment to education, outreach, and community engagement. Most recently, he served as the Director of Arts and Culture and Artistic Director for the City of Hampton, Virginia, where he oversaw the City’s Public Art Program and fostered the unique public/private partnership with the Hampton Arts Foundation. Prior to his tenure in Hampton, Parison, Jr. served as CEO and Executive Director of Richmond CenterStage (Richmond Performing Arts Center), where he guided strategic planning, developed partnership programs, and enhanced institutional branding.

His extensive career encompasses leadership positions at Barrington Stage Company, Prince Theater, Walnut Street Theatre, Great Lakes Theater Festival, and Lakeland Community College.

In making the announcement, City Manager Chris Brady said, “Mr. Parison is a dynamic cultural arts administrator with demonstrated experience leading renowned and beloved municipal institutions. His career accomplishments demonstrate a professional commitment to mission-based work that entertains audiences and engages communities. We are thrilled to bring someone of Mr. Parison’s caliber and background to Mesa. We can’t wait to see Mesa Arts grow and thrive under his tenure.”

“It is an honor and a privilege to join the municipal and creative communities in Mesa, Arizona as Director of Arts and Culture and Executive Director of the Mesa Arts Center,” said Parison, Jr. “For several decades the cultural team for the City of Mesa has made herculean contributions to the quality of life for Mesa citizens. I look forward to continuing those contributions and finding new and exciting ways to engage our citizens and community in the transformative power of the arts, culture, and science.”

“Congratulations to Richard on his appointment as the Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Mesa and Executive Director of the Mesa Arts Center,” said ACG Senior Advisor Delilah Norris. “His visionary approach, results-driven mindset, collaborative spirit, and unwavering passion position him as an exceptional leader poised to elevate arts and culture, ensuring a trajectory of long-term success for the City of Mesa.”

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