By Al Beeber on November 11, 2021.
LETHBRIDGE HERALD[email protected]
After extensive research, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery has a new Managing Director.
Su Ying Strang, who has spent the past nine years at the New Gallery in Calgary, will begin her transition to her new role at SAAG this month before taking up her full-time role on January 3.
Strang, visual artist and cultural worker, has spent a decade working in the nonprofit arts sector. She sits on the Board of Governors of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, is Chair of its Governance Committee and Co-Chair of the Museum’s Anti-Racism and Fairness Committee.
She has also lectured, presented workshops and developed public programs for organizations across the country.
In 2018, she was named one of Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40s by Avenue magazine and received the Alumni Horizon Award from the University of the Arts in the same year.
Melissa Arseniuk, chairman of the board of SAAG, said this week that Strang “is a star”.
SAAG employed a Calgary company to help with the search and used hiring boards to ensure the best candidate was hired. It is also an extensive verification process.
âThe board really wanted to make sure the process was complete, inclusive and transparent. So we hired an outside company to help us, âArseniuk said.
âWe posted the job posting all over a variety of arts and culture job boards in addition to more traditional job boards,â she added.
âWe had a pretty wide choice of fields,â with a few dozen applicants interested in the job, Arseniuk said.
âThe board had a hiring committee and we kind of narrowed the candidates down from there,â and then interviewed Zoom, she said.
SAAG then employed an external hiring committee made up of people from the Lethbridge School Division, the Galt Museum, the city, the University of Lethbridge and the Allied Arts Council, Arseniuk said.
These people also went through interviews and âthen the successful candidate came to Lethbridge and participated in a one-day interview and conversationâ with the external hiring committee and the gallery board, Arseniuk said.
âThen the outside Calgary firm really took over and did a solid background check, a criminal check, social media scans and whatever you want, which took a while. We weren’t expecting skeletons to come out of the closet, but we just wanted to make sure that absolutely this candidate was fully approved and indeed is, âArseniuk said.
âWe are very, very happy that Su Ying is joining us,â she said.
âHer candidacy was very, very solid and throughout the process she was a very engaging, warm, articulate and, I would say, sophisticated candidate. She truly understands the nature of the job and the amount of work that awaits and what is expected of her. But she faces it with open eyes and arms, âArseniuk said.
âWe think it’s a perfect fit for the organization and the community,â Arseniuk added.
âThis is a very pivotal period for the gallery and that is why this hiring was so important to be successful. The board of directors made the decision to make a change with the management of the gallery about a year ago, in November 2020. And we realized that we had to make a change there. . . now, fast forward a year, we have the right person to do what needs to be done, âArseniuk said.
The new director’s first assignment will examine the role SAAG is currently playing in the community, Arseniuk said.
âWe, the board, identified some weaknesses that needed to be overcome,â Arseniuk said.
âThe gallery has gone through some periods of transition and challenges, but for us the Board of Directors sees the current status as an opportunity. We kind of embraced COVID as an opportunity to hit the reset button and refocus and understand what the gallery can offer the community, how the gallery can better serve the community and go from there. “
On November 25, the new director will make an appearance at SAAG Social which will take place at 7 p.m. Tickets are $ 20 for the event where people will have the chance to meet her. Organized by the SAAG Board of Directors, the event will give the gallery a chance to re-engage the community. It will offer a taste of the upcoming exhibits in an evening with live entertainment, food, drink and a raffle of experience packages organized.
“The gallery is a cultural institution, it is a building that the city internally calls the downtown jewel and in recent years the institution has been frankly turned inward rather than outward and over over the past year, the board has gone out of its way to make the changes necessary to ensure that we are outward looking and engaged in welcoming people, a large part of the community, into She said.
âSu Ying is the right person to lead the organization and focus on this operational and fiscal sustainability,â said Arseniuk.
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