Less than a year into her tenure, Elissa Blount Moorhead has left her position as leader of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.
The North Avenue-based organization announced Blount Moorhead’s departure yesterday. According to a statement, she found her ability to further the organization’s mission – building Station North’s national draw as a “creative hub,” per its vision statement – was constrained by limited resources and its organizational structure.
“Elissa offered a number of thoughtful recommendations for how SNAE might best move forward, including offering her resignation in order to reorganize operations,” the statement said. “The board ultimately accepted Elissa’s resignation, and although we are sad to lose her leadership, we are exploring ways with Elissa to keep her connected to our staff and board in order to move her – and our – vision forward to benefit the district and its constituents.”
SNAED director of development and operations Amelia Rambissoon “remains committed to the organization” and has stepped in for Blount Moorhead as interim executive director, the statement said.
Rambissoon wrote in a follow-up email that “with the change in staff, we also want to restructure the board/possibl[y] activate committees and have Elissa participate in that in some way since she still has so much to offer and teach me. I think that’s mainly what we’ll be working on in the upcoming months.”
She also wrote that the organization has a “a vision/strategy plan we are actively working on,” based on feedback they’ve gotten from talking with community partners.
As of now, they’re not looking to hire a new executive director, she said.
Blount Moorhead took over as executive director of SNAED in late October of 2016. She moved from New York City to Baltimore in 2014 and rapidly carved out a place herself for herself as a leader in the city’s artist community. She has served on the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts’ Public Art Commission under both the Rawlings-Blake and Pugh administrations, and is currently a member of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s Safe Art Spaces Task Force.
Months after she took over for SNAED, Blount Moorhead spoke both pointedly and optimistically at Mayor Pugh’s announcement about the task force’s inception. Pugh formed the group to design a way for Baltimore to safely house and support its thriving artist community in the wake of the city’s forced closure of the Bell Foundry building, which displaced dozens of artists.
Blount Moorhead called for the city to maintain “an ecology, an ecosystem” for artists while drawing up a plan designate safe spaces for them. She also encouraged her task force colleagues – who include bankers and fire department officials – to avoid using too narrow of a definition for the term “artist,” so as to support a wide enough scope of creatives in Baltimore.
Blount Moorhead isn’t going anywhere outside of Baltimore, according to SNAED’s announcement. She was recently named a 2017 Ruby Grantee in Media and Performing Arts by the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, as well as an Incubator Fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film & Media Studies.
SNAED’s program director, Kimi Hanauer, has also left the organization “to focus on her independent practice and publishing initiative Press Press.” She’ll still be working with the group as a program consultant during its transition period.
In the meantime, Rambissoon said the organization is also going to hire a part-time program manager and has a full-time intern set to start next week. They’ll be focusing, respectively, on the busy Ynot Lot and the “the Station North Mini Golf project” set to launch in July, she said.
This story has been updated.
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