The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County will soon welcome a new leader after a long search and interview process, and a major political and financial setback.
Dave Lawrence will take over as the non-profit organization’s president and chief executive officer on August 20.
In that role, he will be responsible for distributing almost $4.4 million in grants annually, in addition to supporting and advocating for more than 200 local cultural organizations, leading cultural tourism marketing campaigns, and operating a Lake Worth headquarters that serves as home to exhibitions, performances and arts education programs on a regular basis.
Lawrence succeeds Rena Blades, who stepped down from the post at the beginning of the year.
Lawrence, 50, has been working in Indianapolis’ cultural scene for the past 28 years, including a stint as head of the Arts Council of Indianapolis for the past nine years.
In 2013, he was invited to serve on a Palm Beach County cultural council grants panel for major organizations. He says of that experience, “I was taken with the breadth and depth of the arts community and impressed by the council’s board and staff. It’s stuck with me ever since.”
The need to fill the position also came after a failed effort to allocate a part of the 2016 voter-approved penny sales tax hike to benefit cultural capital projects. Council officials say that the county commission left culture off the ballot.
Among the other top strategic priorities for the Cultural Council’s board after Lawrence starts are: improving connections with the local business community and developing ways for various organizations to combine resources and efforts to bring attention to the cultural sector.