When Gerd Wuestemann joined Scottsdale Arts as its new chief operating officer in March 2018, he took the lead of an organization in management discord.
Since 2014, a revolving door had left the independent nonprofit charged with providing artistic services to the city of Scottsdale with changes at almost every top position on the civic center campus (see below). After more than a year at the helm, Wuestemann thinks he’s achieved what the organization lacked when he came on board: unity.
“We’re at a good starting point,” says Wuestemann of his senior management team of 14, which operates Scottsdale Public Art, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale Arts Education & Outreach, the annual Canal Convergence and the annual Scottsdale Arts Festival. An example of this “coming together,” Wuestemann says, was last November’s 10-day Canal Convergence celebration. “Everyone in the organization participated… We increased engagement [total public attendance] from [80,546] in 2017 to 275,000 in 2018.”
He attributes that to restructuring and uniting. “Before,” he says, “people felt isolated. No one worked together… It was as if they were trying to protect their turf. Now, everyone’s on board and can see the broader vision. They can see why it’s better to use these incredibly smart people and tap into them as a resource and collaborate.”
Director of events Jamie Prins, who’s worked at Scottsdale Arts for nearly nine years, sees progress. “We’re better at supporting one another… We’re more excited about the future.” Says Wuestemann, “We really have a strong team now who plan to stay.”