Jim Sparrow, arts council president and CEO, resigns

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 12, 2018

WINSTON-SALEM — Jim Sparrow, president and CEO of The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, has resigned effective July 31.  Sparrow will become executive director of the Fort Wayne Ballet, Indiana’s only resident professional ballet company which is now in its 62nd season. He assumed his position here in Winston-Salem five years ago.
Rick Moss, chair of The Arts Council board, made the announcement noting that Sparrow had led the organization through a period in which the role of community united arts funds throughout the nation has changed significantly. “Jim saw the trends and helped us as an arts council and as individual arts organizations begin to adjust. We are grateful to him for his service and certainly wish him well.”
Moss said The Arts Council board will immediately begin a search for a new president and CEO, looking locally and beyond.  “We are also in the final months of our annual United Arts Fund campaign, and we are going to redouble our efforts on this front so our new president and CEO can start from the strongest possible position,” said Moss.
Prior to coming to Winston-Salem in the fall of 2013, Sparrow was the director of Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne.  Immediately upon his arrival here, Sparrow began to create efficiencies by moving council offices from rental space into space it owned, realigning and streamlining staff responsibilities and creating a management structure for council properties that has effectively eliminated the substantial annual operating deficits.
Sparrow’s oft-stated goal has been to create a theater district in Winston-Salem’s downtown with The Milton Rhodes Center as the nucleus. This effort received a major boost from the recent sale of The Arts Council Theater and the transition to city center of both the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem. Proceeds from the sale eased financial pressures from bond indebtedness related to the creation of The Rhodes Center.
Sparrow forged a strong working relationship with the leadership of the county’s two governing bodies, the City of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County Commissioners, and has garnered support for The Arts Council from both groups. The Summer Parks Series that kicked off the regional Independence Day celebration was a collaborative effort with Forsyth County Commissioners.
Moss, a retired senior executive at Hanesbrands, said, “Change is inevitable in both the corporate and nonprofit communities. It represents both challenges and opportunities. We have a strong, diverse board that is prepared to move forward and provide leadership that will assure that The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County serves Winston-Salem and Forsyth County efficiently and effectively and retains The Council’s position as one of the leading community arts organizations in the nation.”