Valerie Gay, former assistant dean for institutional advancement for the College of Education at Temple University, has been selected as executive director of the Art Sanctuary.
“When I got the call I was absolutely floored,” Gay said at the Thursday press conference. “As I’ve gotten to know Art Sanctuary, what really excites me most about the organization is its enormous potential. Everything that the Art Sanctuary is doing is excellent and has the potential to be more deeply embedded in Philadelphia.”
While at Temple University, Gay was able to fundraise, direct alumni activities and build connections with communities by establishing the Making A Difference Project — an educational philanthropic gift registry which matches the needs of classroom teachers with donors’ interest.
Before her work at Temple University, Gay served ten years at PNC Financial Services Group where she ended as vice president and portfolio manager with PNC Advisors managing investment portfolios of high net-worth individuals and family trusts.
An artist herself, Gay is a singer. She performed in operas, musical theater, solo concert recitals and conducted ensembles in special events. In 2008, she sang in the world premier of Grammy-nominated trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe’s “A Shepherd Among Us” and his 2011 preview of “Can You Hear God Crying.”
“I know the idea of having Black art as the basic foundation for connecting where everything is,” Gay said. “I believe it is a missed opportunity if people of all ethnicities don’t see their connection to Black art. And Art Sanctuary [can] actually be that bridge — and that’s very exciting.”
Gay said her goals are to connect more Philadelphia youth to the organization’s programs and use social media to help, as well.
Founded in 1998 by author and artist Lorene Cary, Art Sanctuary is an African-American arts organization devoted to presenting outstanding regional and national talent in literary, visual, and performing arts.
“It’s always been my vision to create an organization that would grow behind me,” Cary told the Tribune. “If we build institutions, Black institutions, and we’re super careful with them, [and] we pass them on to careful management, they will be here to strengthen our communities.”
Cary will continue teaching at the University of Pennsylvania and writing.
“Valerie Gay is the most extraordinary candidate for this job,” Cary said. “It’s hard to follow a founder,” Cary said at the Thursday press conference. “Founders are notorious of sabotaging a process that let’s somebody come in and do better than they did. That was my vision. I wanted someone to come in a do better than I. Otherwise, what the hell has the 14 years been about.”