The Northwest Arkansas Council (Council) has selected Allyson Esposito as Executive Director of its new, as yet unnamed arts services organization in Arkansas, following an executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). She began her tenure on July 22, 2019.
Ms. Esposito is a professional arts administrator, lawyer, and artist with exemplary change management, strategic planning, and cultural grantmaking skills. She most recently served as Senior Director, Arts and Culture Program for The Boston Foundation. In this role, she created and implemented a new vision and mission for the Foundation’s arts and culture programs, improved diversity, equity, and access within Boston’s arts sector, and developed new funding partnerships and initiatives with local and regional government and philanthropies. During her tenure, she also doubled the annual discretionary Arts & Culture budget to $3 million and created the Live Arts Boston program, which has supported 185 projects and more than 450 local artists—70 percent of which identify as persons of color. Prior to her time in Boston, Ms. Esposito held the role of Director, Cultural Grants Program for the City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. She managed the program budget, monitored a portfolio of 300 grantees, and led the first restructure of the Cultural Grants Program in more than 20 years. Her efforts with the Cultural Grants Program led to an increase in budget allocation from 15 percent to 33 percent as well as the funding of more than 100 new grantees in the first two years. Ms. Esposito’s additional leadership roles include Program Officer at the Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation, Co-Founder and Executive Director at the Space Movement Project, and Senior Privacy & Data Protection Consultant at Deloitte & Touche.
An active member of the arts and culture community, Ms. Esposito has been both company member and choreographer at the Space Movement Project since its conception in 2015 and company member at Public Displays of Motion. She has also been a board member and legal/business consultant for various arts organizations, including Dance/USA, the Dance Complex, RE|Dance, and Logan Square Chamber of Arts. She has served as a grant panelist for the Cambridge Arts Council, Illinois Arts Council, and Ingenuity, Inc. Ms. Esposito earned a bachelor of arts degree from Miami University of Ohio and a juris doctor degree from DePaul University College of Law. She was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 2015.
In making the announcement, Chief Operating Officer of the Council Mike Harvey said, “We’re excited to be taking the next step in our maturation as an arts and culture destination, and we’re thrilled that Allyson will be leading the regional effort help us realize that vision.”
“On my recent trips to Northwest Arkansas, I immediately felt the cultural vibrancy of the region and was blown away by the scale of ambition and possibility,” said Ms. Esposito. “I experienced a rich array of cultural traditions, inspiring artists working in all mediums, and forward-thinking, groundbreaking institutions. I am excited to learn more about the people and organizations that make the area an exceptional place to live and visit, and to help build policies and systems that support and amplify this creative ecosystem for years to come.”
“It was a pleasure working with the search committee at the Northwest Arkansas Council to place a candidate of Ms. Esposito’s caliber,” said ACG Vice President Wyona Lynch-McWhite. “ACG would like to congratulate Ms. Esposito on her appointment to this key role within such an important new arts service organization. We are confident that her leadership, management, and fundraising skills, in addition to her active role in the arts and culture community, will help this organization identify its key programs, build its management structures, and develop its mission.”