The Minnesota State Arts Board has chosen Thomas Proehl to be the agency's executive director. Proehl, a native of Moorhead, has been serving as interim executive director since December.
Before that, Proehl served as general manager and then managing director of The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He replaces Robert Booker, who left the arts board in late 2005 to head a similar organization in Arizona.
"My goal as executive director of the Arts Board is to focus our energies and resources to make sure that every Minnesotan has the ongoing prospect to experience and be enriched by the arts," said Proehl.
Proehl's appointment comes at a crucial time for the State Arts Board. Since drastic state budget cuts in 2003, the board has operated on less than two-thirds of its previous funding. Now the Legislature is considering reinstating some of that funding.
Proehl says he'll make the case for increased funding by stressing the arts' contribution to the economy.
"The state invests about $8.5 million in the arts board on an annual basis, and that returns over $1 billion a year, and so the return on investment is pretty good," says Proehl.
Lawmakers are also considering a constitutional amendment that, if ratified, could make the Minnesota State Arts Board the best supported arts board in the country.