A farewell to Brian Wagner
Durango Arts Center director departs for Oregon

Collage by Jules Masterjohn

by Jules Masterjohn

Durango has been fortunate to have Brian Wagner leading the Durango Arts Center for the past 11 years. He shepherded the organization from the strong vision and community involvement inspired by former director Barbara Conrad and rallied that intention and goodwill into building a permanent home for the arts in downtown Durango. Now, with an annual operating budget nearing $1 million, the DAC is an important and dynamic multidisciplinary arts organization for people of all ages. Brian leaves us this week for wetter pastures – he will be working for the Oregon Art Commission as their community development coordinator, building relationships on a statewide level.

Thank you, Brian, for the many years of service to the arts!

“Serving on the Board of the Arts Center under Brian’s direction was a joy! His ability to see all sides of any issue, his level of diplomacy and his gift at earning the trust and respect of so many diverse factions of the community can’t be understated. He brought the Arts Center and all the programs to a position of prominence in the state and throughout the region through his vision and hard work, and always with a smile.”

–Laurie Dickson, business owner & former DAC Board president

“Warm, engaging and always interested in what other people are doing, Brian has the gift of making and sustaining human connections. As an institutional leader, that has translated into an ability to persuade people to volunteer time, ideas and money. He has understood the need for an arts center to be inclusive and experimental, to be a showcase for area, regional and national visual art, a center for theater and dance, and a space for music. His capacity for remembering individual interests and life events is uncanny and accounts for an enormous amount of goodwill given to him, and by proxy, to the Arts Center.”

–Judith Reynolds, cultural critic and writer

“Brian is a generous, sincere, nice person, who really likes artists. When I visited the Arts Center, Brian always had time for ‘hello’ and a few questions about what’s going on. He took a keen interest in local artists’ careers. Brian was able to cultivate new friends for the Arts Center, especially making an effort to talk to downtown businesses. I always felt welcome at the Arts Center, and I know he made newcomers feel welcome, too.”

–Ilze Aviks, artist, educator and writer

“Primarily, Brian built and opened relationships with the business community, emphasizing how the arts can be an asset to and an enriching part of the community at large. His efforts were heartfelt in this promotion of the arts overall. In my experience, he was also supportive of volunteer efforts to make the Arts Center a more inclusive and inspirational environment for community artists and the viewing public.”

–Mary Ellen Long, artist & DAC volunteer

“What Brian brought to the DAC and the art community is his unique personality. He is very approachable and, in my experience, always interested in new ideas. His warm and attentive manner let people know that they were being listened to and genuinely cared about.”

–Louise Grunewald, artist and DAC volunteer

“I have had extensive experience working with Brian promoting and advancing the arts and art education in the Durango area. Together, we helped start the first public art committee in Durango and the Durango Public Art Commission under the City’s boards and commissions. Brian’s ability to build coalitions and activate community support has been a big reason for the success of these organizations.”

–Carol Martin, artist and DAC Board member •

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