Bury leaving Cultural Coalition for post at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts
Wendy Bury, the only executive director the Cultural Coalition serving eastern Connecticut has ever had, is leaving the nonprofit organization to become managing director of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, both entities announced this week.
Bury, 51, of Stonington, will begin transitioning to her new position March 1, and will be fully integrated into the academy’s administration by June, according to a statement posted by the academy’s board of trustees.
In a phone interview, Bury said her impending departure came as no surprise to the coalition, which during her tenure has grown to include some 600 partners, including sole proprietors, individual artists, small volunteer-run organizations, professionally staffed museums, major tourist attractions and community arts centers.
“When I started, I knew I didn’t want to stay past 10 years,” Bury said. “It’s the right time (to leave) and the right place. I’ve absolutely treasured my time here.”
Bury said she’s especially proud of the coalition’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.
“We really had a significant impact on those who needed help,” she said. “We grew our staff during the pandemic by taking advantage of the relief money that was available, and our work around the American Rescue Plan Act has been pivotal. The pandemic gave us the chance to experience the loss of the arts. It showed the huge social and economic impact they have.”
The coalition was instrumental in helping municipalities manage the distribution of ARPA funds, providing more than $2 million directly or indirectly to arts organizations, Bury said.
After serving as founding executive director of the La Grua Center in Stonington, Bury joined the coalition in 2014, two years after its formation by a group of more than 50 leaders from the business, arts, tourism, government and education sectors in both the greater New London and Norwich areas. Prior to the coalition’s formation, southeastern Connecticut was the only region in the state without a designated regional service organization, or DRSO, recognized by the state Office of the Arts.
In January 2021, the coalition became the DRSO for northeastern Connecticut, too, and currently serves a total of 42 municipalities.
“Thanks to Wendy’s leadership, the Cultural Coalition has become an important voice for the cultural community in eastern Connecticut and is in the strongest financial and organizational position since its start in 2012,” Nishant Sahoo, chairman of the coalition’s board of directors, wrote in a message to coalition partners. “We have grown to include a team of two full-time staff and four part-time positions that support the business. … Wendy will leave an unforgettable legacy with the Cultural Coalition.”
Sahoo noted Bury will aid in the search for her successor.
As managing director of the Lyme academy, Bury will be responsible for its daily operations as well as strategic planning initiatives, community outreach and institutional development, the academy’s board said in its statement. She will partner with co-artistic directors Jordan Sokol and Amaya Gurpide and the board of trustees.
“We conducted a thorough search and reviewed the credentials of dozens of outstanding candidates,” Michael Thomas Duffy, the academy board’s chairman, said. “I think one of Wendy’s references said it best when they told us that, ‘In Connecticut, there are few people who are as capable as Wendy. She can develop an innovative vision, a road map, engage partners, and put her shoulder to the wheel to make it happen.’”