Al Head celebrates 25 years on art council

Published 7:31 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Troy’s Albert B. Head celebrates twenty-five years as executive director of the Alabama State Council on the Arts today.

Long hailed as a visionary arts leader, he is responsible for groundbreaking initiatives that have made the Council in Alabama one of the foremost state arts councils in the U.S., the council members say.

His leadership has provided funding growth, long-range planning, support for individual artists, and innovative services to its constituents in all arts disciplines.

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“Head is a widely respected and beloved fixture in Alabama’s arts and culture sector. Most of my arts administrator colleagues cannot recall the Arts Council without him,” said George Culver, executive director of the Birmingham Children’s Theatre.

“His impressive tenure is rooted in a genuine passion for the arts, seasoned with his keen understanding of the creative energies the arts ignite in people regardless of age, gender or socio-economic profile,” said Culver.

“As a valued resource for arts organizations across the state, Al has proven himself to be an extraordinary leader, as well as a man with the right heart, in the right place at the right time for Alabama these last 25 years.”

Head has worked in the state arts field for more than 38 years, beginning in 1972 with the Fine Arts Council of Florida, and continuing through executive director positions with the Stephen Foster Folklife Center in Florida, and the Louisiana Division of the Arts. He has served his home state of Alabama for the past twenty-five years as the Council’s executive director.

“No community orchestra could have a better friend than Al Head,” said Helen Steineker, executive director of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra.

“He has been a trusted advisor and confidante to the MSO and its leadership ever since his arrival in Montgomery 25 years ago. He has always understood the nature of community music making and has helped us expand our programs through his continued encouragement and support. With his assistance, the MSO has become a community orchestra with a national profile.”

Head earned his undergraduate degree from Troy State University in art history and aesthetics and his Master of Liberal Arts, with a concentration in Southern literature, from Auburn University at Montgomery.

“Without the long-rang planning and vision of Al Head, the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center Complex and the Johnson Center for the Arts would not be a reality today,” said Richard Metzger, executive director. “As a result of Head’s vision and leadership, our organization received an $80,000 grant from the Council in 2007, which solidified the funding necessary to turn the abandoned Post Office into the state-of-the-art visual exhibition space it is today.” Metzger continued, “Since that first grant we have continued to receive support from the Council for our exhibition and educational programming, offering tours to over 4,000 school children since we opened in September of 2008. For the first time in the history of Pike County young and old people have an opportunity to experience art and culture in their own community.”

“Al has been gracious and generous with both his time and expertise, which has expanded my personal development as an executive director of an arts organization. He has an open door policy and since I first arrived in Alabama I have relied on his guidance to help me and our organization so we can begin to reach our full potential,” said Metzger.

Head received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1974 to attend Harvard’s Arts Administration Institute.

He has served two terms on the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies board participating in a wide range of committee work. He has been a member of the Southern Arts Federation board for 32 years and presided as its chair from 1983-85. Prior to serving as chair of SAF, Head served as vice-chair 1981-1983.

Head has served on numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and has chaired both the Folk Arts and Arts in Education panels.

In 1998 he received the Gary Young Award presented by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies for his leadership and achievements in promoting the arts nationally. He is the only executive director to initiate folk arts programs in three states: Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama.

The Alabama State Council on the Arts is the official state arts agency of Alabama.

Its mission is to enhance the quality of life in Alabama by providing access to and support for the state’s diverse and rich artistic resources.

The staff of the Council administers the grants programs and provides technical assistance in arts planning and programming.

The Council receives its support through an annual appropriation from the Alabama Legislature and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.