Art League of Hilton Head names new director, seeks to expand

bheffernan@islandpacket.comFebruary 11, 2013 

Jamie Gall

The Art League of Hilton Head has tapped a consultant who has worked with the organization since November to be its next leader.

Jamie Gall is already familiar with her new tasks: She took over many of the league's administrative duties when former executive director Linda Powers left at the end of November, league officials said. Gall said her goal as director is to expand fundraising and programs.

Powers became the Art League's first executive director in January 2012. Her departure was by mutual agreement, board treasurer Cindy Chiappetta said.

Attempts Monday to reach Powers were unsuccessful.

Powers' salary was $42,000, according to the organization's accommodations-tax grant application. Gall, who was hired for her new job last week, will receive at least $40,000 and could earn more if the organization meets fundraising goals, Chiappetta said.

Gall previously worked for Telfair Museums and the Savannah College of Art and Design, of which she is a graduate, and was hired as a consultant in November to try to make the organization run more efficiently, Chiappetta said.

Hiring Gall was an easy decision after she proved her administrative skills following Powers' departure, Chiappetta said. Gall also was among the finalists for the executive director job when Powers was hired in January 2012.

The turnover comes at a critical juncture for the Art League: Chiappetta said it's time to either "grow the organization and make it more financially sound, or ... shrink back to where the organization was about 35 years ago -- which is just a gang of artists who find a place to show their work every once in a while."

Expansion would mean collaborating more often with other local arts groups and becoming less financially dependent on competitive accommodations-tax grants from the Town of Hilton Head Island.

The Art League was awarded $40,000 in accommodations-tax money for 2013, less than two-thirds of what it sought. Accommodations taxes, also known as bed taxes, are taxes on overnight lodging used to fund tourism-related projects and organizations.

Gall said Powers' exit was a product of the organization's "growing pains."

"The Art League wants to grow and become more competitive" for regional and state grants, she said, adding questions remain about how the organization will do that.

"Membership has been very strong, but we're trying to attract a younger audience and more working-class adults and families," she said.

The Art League, formed in 1977, hosts visual-arts exhibits in the Walter Greer Gallery at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and offers art classes to the community.

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