Interview by Sara Button || Images by Thorpe Griner

Copyright Thorpe Griner

On Thursday January 22, the Greater Denton Arts Council celebrated and welcomed their new Executive Director, Tracy Bays-Boothe. We had the opportunity of talking with Tracy to find out more about what she does with the organization and community as a whole and are excited to share this intriguing interview with you. Read below for more information.


 

Copyright Thorpe Griner
SARA BUTTON : Congratulations on your new position as the Executive Director over the Greater Denton Arts Council! That is exciting news! What are some of your immediate and long term goals within your new position?
Tracy Bays-Boothe :Thank you! It is a remarkable time in Denton and in the history of the Greater Denton Arts Council. I’m not sure if the general public is aware of all that the Greater Denton Arts Council does. I am lucky to be joining an organization that has been in been in operation for over 40 years. The Greater Denton Arts Council supports over 40 diverse arts and non-profit organizations and since 1980 has given over a million dollars in grants to arts organizations across Denton. In our galleries, the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts, GDAC produces over twenty exhibitions a year, raising up local artists as well as established national artists. With that in mind, my first goal is to continue the good work that has been done while looking for ways to strengthen and expand our reach and impact. I’m excited to find ways to open our doors to new audiences and partners and create exciting programs for the community.

How long have you been active in the Arts community here in Denton?
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Professionally, I’ve been in the museum world/arts in North Texas for about 16 years. Prior to that, in the early 90s I moved to Denton to attend the University of North Texas. I met my husband, a musician, at the Good/Bad Art Collective during that time. In the late 90s, I moved to Dallas to join the staff at the Dallas Museum of Art where I became the Director of Public Programs. After leaving the DMA, I was the Director of Education at the Crow Collection of Asian Art and was privileged to work with artists from across the region and the world. After the birth of my son, I began consulting for area non-profits and serving as adjunct professor at UNT. I absolutely loved working with the bright and talented students here. After being named the new Director for GDAC this past November, we moved back to Denton and couldn’t be happier. It feels like a homecoming!

What GDAC sponsored events are you looking forward to this year?
35 Denton of course! We are thrilled and honored to be hosting two nights of shows here at the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts. Not only will people be able to see great musicians, they can tour the galleries between sets and see some fantastic art. Other events that I’m exciting about include our CARA awards event, February 27. The CARA is awarded yearly to an individual or business who has contributed significantly to the arts of Denton – this year’s recipient is Dan Mojica of Dan’s Silverleaf. Dan is curating the night and its going to feature some of Denton’s best performers. I’m also extremely excited about a special all night event we are hosting March 27 – the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts will be open all night! We’ll have art activities and storytelling for families, music and theatre in the galleries, performances by the Vintage Jazz Society and Brave Combo, flashlight tours, after hours concerts and dj sets, encore screenings of films from the Thin Line Festival, artist demos, and much more. The theme is “Don’t let the lights go out on the arts in Denton” – and we’ll be keeping the lights on and fully programmed until the sun comes up! For more details, you can visit dentonarts.com.

Copyright Thorpe Griner

Who are a few of your favorite local Denton artists and musicians?
There is so much talent in Denton it is hard to choose. There is always something new and exciting. If I had to choose favorites, Midlake, Baptist Generals, Bad Sports come to mind. Of course my FAVORITE local Denton musician is my husband and my six year old son plays a mean electric guitar… but I *may* be biased.

As a professional working in a creative environment, how do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
In a creative environment, open communication and a willingness to experiment are critical. Everyone’s opinions must be welcomed and valued. It is also imperative that we are not only speaking with and listening to each other but with our audiences, our partners, and with the community. It is my role to make sure everyone feels heard and comfortable bringing new ideas to the table and that we are welcoming to new thoughts, ideas, and suggestions.

You have an outstanding background in consulting, education, and fine arts. What advice do you have for young professionals in the area who are interested in working with non-profits
You must have passion and patience to not only enter but maintain longevity in the non-profit world. Do what you love; the jobs and career will follow. To start, volunteer, intern, gather as many experiences as you can. In preparation for the non-profit world I also encourage students and young professionals to seek out and acquire “for-profit” skills as well. Working with budgets, business plans, administration issues, grants, cost-benefit analysis – these are skills you will need in both the profit and not-for-profit world. If you intend to pursue a career in the non-profit realm, I encourage students to seek out business and marketing classes as well as your required art, music, and liberal arts classes.

We are really excited to work with the GDAC this year for our festival! How do you think the GDAC can positively affect 35 Denton this year and in the future?
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We are thrilled to work with 35 Denton and hope this marks the beginning of a happy and long partnership! It is my hope that collaboration with events like 35 Denton will help bridge and strengthen the connections between the arts in our community. It is our responsibility and mission as an organization to support and promote all the arts– visual arts, music, theatre, dance, poetry. Both emerging and established artists and organizations can benefit when we all work together and support each other. I also hope that GDAC and the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts can be seen as viable venue for musicians and artists from across the region and country. We welcome the opportunity to showcase new talent in all its forms.

We are looking forward to our long-term partnership with Bays-Boothe as well as the GDAC. Thanks for your insight, Tracy!

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