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2013 Arts Awards Profile:

Dr. Peter Keller

  This is the last in a series of profiles on the honorees who will be recognized at the 14th Annual Orange County Arts Awards on Tuesday, September 24 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.  More information and tickets to the event here.

2013 Helena Cultural Legacy Award for Artistic Visionary


Peter Keller joined the Bowers Museum as President in 1991. Since his arrival, Dr. Keller has overseen two major building expansions and shifted the direction of the museum from a city-run museum devoted primarily to the history of Orange County, to a world-class internationally-celebrated institution focused on presenting fine art and culture from around the world.


Throughout his tenure at the Bowers, Dr. Keller has been responsible for bringing over fifty critically-acclaimed exhibitions to the museum. Several of these exhibitions have featured world-class cultural treasures such as Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasure of Ethiopia (2013), Secrets of the Silk Road (2010), Art of the Samurai (2009) and Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China's First Emperor (2008).


He has also forged major partnerships with some of the greatest museums throughout the world, including the British Museum, the Palace Museums in Beijing and Taipai, China, the Museo del Oro in Bogota, Colombia, and many others.


Before arriving at the Bowers, Dr. Keller spent 15 years associated with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. There, he held positions as Curator of Gems and Minerals, overseeing the construction of their world renowned Hall of Gems and Minerals. Following his tenure as curator, Dr. Keller was elected to the Museum's Board of Trustees where he served until his appointment as Deputy Director of the Museum in 1986, where he remained until 1991 when he joined the Bowers Museum.

Dr. Keller holds a B.A in Geology from George Washington University. During this time, he developed his first taste of the museum field while working in the Mineral Sciences Department at the Smithsonian Institution. He later received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Texas at Austin where he specialized in the Geology of northern Mexico.

Orange County & Los Angeles Arts, Education & Science Leaders

Create Arts and STEM Collaborative for 21st Century Learning


Boeing-Funded Initiative is First of Its Kind in the Region


Leaders from Orange County and Los Angeles' arts, education and science communities have established the Arts and STEM Collaborative for 21st Century Learning. The purpose of the initiative is to explore how representatives from two counties and multiple content areas can work together to transform area schools into creative incubators. The Boeing Company invested $75,000 to support this regional effort. A report will be released in December documenting the work accomplished in 2013 and highlighting findings relevant for the field.


"Boeing continues to inspire the engineers and scientists of tomorrow through innovative initiatives and programs designed to help them prepare for technical jobs and careers," says Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager, Space & Intelligence Systems and chief executive officer, Boeing Satellite Systems International, Inc. "Quality STEM and arts education for all students will help develop the skills and creativity we need in the future workforce."


Arts Orange County, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, through its arts education initiative Arts for All, Los Angeles County Office of Education and Orange County Department of Education are leading the collaborative.


"Boeing has long supported our arts education initiatives and those of our partner in that realm, the OC Department of Education," said Pat Wayne, ArtsOC's Deputy Director. "We welcome this unique opportunity to work collaboratively with our counterpart agencies in Los Angeles County in pursuit of a new paradigm that can advance fledgling efforts in STEM + arts education around the region and the nation."


To date, participants in the collaborative include representatives from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, California Science Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Art Center College of Design, Science OC, Cal State Fullerton, OC STEM Initiative, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine, Beall Center for Art + Technology at UC Irvine and Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Representatives from State Senator Carol Liu's office and The Boeing Company also sit on the committee.


The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) currently rolling out across the country emphasize the need to build students' critical thinking skills. These new standards offer a key opportunity to re-imagine how the arts and science might contribute to advancing education through real world project based learning. Both content areas are tied to leading industries and technologies that shape our world and can benefit students in preparing for college, careers and civic engagement. This project offers an opportunity to pool intellectual capital from each subject matter group with the aim of making a larger impact on broad scale educational change.


The first convening of the group last May focused on identifying common outcomes and/or measures of success for students. Additionally, subcommittees were formed and tasked with exploring how arts/STEM concepts and practices align with Common Core State Standards; examining how arts/STEM initiatives might support other statewide priorities; and building public awareness of the potential impact of a strong arts/STEM curriculum.


Arts Orange County is serving as the Project Coordinator for this initiative. 




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Balboa Performing Arts Theatre Foundation Names New CEO:

Former OC Fair CEO Steve Beazley 


Balboa Performing Arts Theater Foundation (BPATF), the nonprofit organization guiding the rebirth of a city-owned historic theater located in the heart of Newport Beach's Balboa Village, has appointed Dr. Steven Beazley as its Chief Executive Officer, effective September 1st.


Beazley served as President & CEO of the OC Fair & Event Center/Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa from 2008-12, following ten years as OCFEC's Sr. Vice President.


Beazley holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University and served four years as a professor at Pepperdine's Graduate School of Education and Psychology.


In the past year, Beazley has consulted with Pacific Symphony, Orange County Great Park, and the Simon Foundation for Education and Housing. Beazley was also a member of South Coast Repertory's acting company in the early '80's.


The Balboa Theatre will be a multi-disciplinary performing arts presenter of music, film, theater and dance as well as offer arts education programs for children and adults, collaborate with local Orange County arts organizations, and will generate a portion of its income through rentals. The theater is being remodeled into a 300-seat multi-use venue boasting the latest in sound and lighting design, while keeping the style and look of the original theater.


The theatre will begin renovations in fall 2013 with an anticipated opening date of fall 2014.


Beazley was selected among the candidates identified by Arts Orange County, the nonprofit countywide arts council, which conducted a national search under contract with BPATF.


More information on the theatre here.

OC Museum of Art Director Dennis Szakacs is Stepping Down 


Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) Director and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Szakacs is stepping down, effective December 31, 2013, after 10 years at the helm.


Szakacs' directorship is the longest in the fifty-plus year history of the museum. During his tenure, OCMA's annual budget increased from $2.5 million to nearly $5 million, its endowment grew from $7 million to $11 million and the museum's facilities were renovated and updated.

Szakacs helped transform the organization into one of the finest museums of its size in the country, with an ambitious exhibition program that rivals that of much larger museums, and groundbreaking educational programs that explore new and better ways of connecting people with art.


Under his leadership, 15 OCMA-organized exhibitions traveled to 37 museums across the U.S. and abroad and more than 20 exhibition catalogs were published or co-published - key measures of scholarly and artistic leadership.


These exhibitions toured to museums such as the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Vancouver Art Gallery; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Wexner Center for the Arts; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Aspen Art Museum; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; The Jewish Museum, New York; Site Santa Fe, and the Bronx Museum of Art.

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