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Valerie Gay Appointed Barnes Foundation Deputy Director for Audience Engagement & Chief Experience Officer

Philadelphia, PA, April 22, 2019—Thom Collins, Neubauer Family Executive Director and President of the Barnes Foundation, today announced the appointment of Valerie V. Gay as the Barnes’s new Deputy Director for Audience Engagement & Chief Experience Officer. With nearly 20 years’ leadership experience in nonprofit administration, and in the arts, culture, and financial sectors, Gay most recently served as Executive Director of Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia. She begins her post at the Barnes in April.

At Art Sanctuary, Gay provided strategic direction, executive leadership, and financial expertise. She was responsible for all aspects of the organization—which utilizes black art to transform individuals, build communities, and foster cultural understanding—including its educational programming, fund-raising, fiscal operations, marketing, and communications.

“I am delighted to welcome Val to the Barnes,” says Collins. “She is an innovative and creative thinker, and her impressive background in the performing arts, nonprofit administration, and program development—paired with her deep commitment to Philadelphia—makes her uniquely suited to lead our audience engagement and visitor experience initiatives. Val’s background and service to the Philadelphia community align seamlessly with the Barnes’s democratic and inclusive ‘art for all’ philosophy. She will play a crucial role in deepening the Barnes’s connections with our visitors and the community at large, and I look forward to working closely with her to amplify our impact within Philadelphia and beyond.”

Gay will play a leading role in growing and sustaining the Foundation’s relationship with audiences in the Philadelphia region and embedding visitor-centered thinking into every aspect of the Barnes. She will oversee public and community programs, lead the visitor experience team, and expand diversity and inclusion initiatives. She will develop both on-site and online points of engagement aimed at deepening and enhancing the visitor experience before, during, and after a visit to the Barnes. Collaborating across departments, she will cultivate new ways for visitors to have meaningful and long-lasting relationships with the Barnes.

“I am thrilled to join the Barnes Foundation, with its inspiring dedication to education and historical commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice,” says Gay. “With the legendary art collection and educational mission at its heart, the Barnes is filled with incredible opportunities for meaningful visitor engagement. Art Sanctuary has been a community partner of the Barnes for six years, and over that time, I’ve admired its work in public, community, and family programs. It’s a great honor to lead these programs, and I look forward to working with my Barnes colleagues toward the goal of deepening our connections with Philadelphia’s diverse, multicultural communities.”

Before joining Art Sanctuary in 2012, Gay served as Assistant Dean for Institutional Advancement for Temple University’s College of Education, as well as the College of Education’s Director of Development and Alumni Affairs. She also held the position of Vice President and Portfolio Manager with PNC Advisors, where she managed investment portfolios of high net-worth individuals and family trusts. In 2006, Gay founded Fortress Arts Academy, a nonprofit that provides arts and skill-building lessons to children and adults, especially those in underserved communities. In 2017, she co-founded Davis Gay + Associates, a firm providing targeted support for nonprofit and social-venture organizations seeking to solve societal problems. She also cofounded the EVER Ensemble, a collective of women musicians who perform diverse musical genres, from classical to hip-hop.

Gay serves on the boards of directors for the Barra Foundation and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and is a member of the Arts + Business Council for Greater Philadelphia’s Advisory Board. She also currently serves on Mayor Jim Kenney’s Council for the Arts. She earned a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from the University of the Arts and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and a Professional Studies Certificate at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. She also completed degree coursework at Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University and is a Certified Financial Planner.

The Barnes Foundation is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution that shares its unparalleled art collection with the public, organizes special exhibitions, and presents programming that fosters new ways of thinking about human creativity. The Barnes collection is displayed in ensembles that integrate art and objects from across cultures and time periods, overturning traditional hierarchies and revealing universal elements of human expression. Home to one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist paintings—including the largest groups of paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne in existence—the Barnes brings together renowned works by such artists as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent van Gogh, alongside ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and non-Western art as well as metalwork, furniture, and decorative art.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” Since moving to the heart of Philadelphia in 2012, the Barnes has expanded its commitment to teaching visual literacy in groundbreaking ways, investing in original scholarship relating to its collection and enhancing accessibility throughout every facet of its program.

The Barnes is open Wednesday–Monday, and tickets can be purchased on-site, online, or by calling 215.278.7200. Ticket prices and current hours are listed on our website.

Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications
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