The Arizona Commission on the Arts has hired a new executive director from Minnesota, where he has held a similar post for eight years.
Robert C. Booker will join the commission Jan. 2, overseeing 18 staff members and an annual budget of $4.4 million. His starting salary will be $75,000 per year.
"You work in the arts not because of the pay," Booker said Friday. "You work in the arts because of the impact and the power that arts have on the communities. I am thrilled to be down here."
Commission chairwoman Virginia Cardenas said Booker was a unanimous selection because of his work to expand the role of art in daily life as executive director for the Minnesota State Arts Board. Cardenas also cited Booker’s experience as a national leader in arts education. Booker served for two years as board president for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
Booker will replace Shelly Cohn of Chandler, who retired earlier this month after leading the state arts agency for 20 years.
Booker said he intends to build on Cohn’s key initiatives, including ArtShare, a state endowment fund to sustain the future of the arts. The endowment helps fund the Scottsdale Cultural Council.
Booker and Cohn worked together when their agencies were among those in 13 states to receive funding from the Wallace Foundation to develop initiatives in arts participation.
Booker also helped create a partnership with other state agencies to promote cultural and heritage tourism in Minnesota.