The Center for Contemporary Arts (or CCA to you) has been without an official executive director since Stuart Ashman left to head up the International Folk Art Market in 2018, but the local arts nonprofit announced this week that it has hired Danyelle Means (Oglala Lakota) for the role—the first Indigenous ED in the organization’s history. The news comes about a month after the CCA hired former Violet Crown Cinema manager Peter Grendle to head up its movie offerings.
Means comes to Santa Fe by way of the museum, education and nonprofit fields following previous positions at the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian among others. She has also worked as a curator and in advisory and board capacities for various organizations and nonprofits, both in and out of Santa Fe. Means has even been recognized for her contributions to the arts with a Shine Award from the Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy and tells SFR she expects to usher in a new era of accessibility and presence within the community.
“I think really we’re looking at creating a sense of community here where the galleries and the cinema work hand-in-hand,” Means says. “The communities we serve here are so vastly different and so incredibly important, and we want to cross-pollinate between our two spaces.”
Given Means’ curatorial expertise, she may have a hand in future visual arts shows, though it seems the goal for now is to foster more engagement and to bring in as many voices as possible.
“My background is in Native American contemporary art, but I think guest curator are going to offer us an opportunity to really think outside the box,” Means explains. “This is about contemporary art and artists from all disciplines who engage people on all levels—that really ignite imaginations and showcase creativity.”
How this might pan out is still a work in progress according to Means, though she sees the next steps as more of a phased rollout than not.
“It’s not going to be everything programmed all at once,” she says. “Peter [Grendle] is working so hard right now on developing cinema programming that gets people to come back time and time again. The rollout of the gallery will be a phased approach as well. And people 18 to 35, what are we doing to bring them in? We want to have programs that are focused on all ages, so a family can come through, an 18 to 35 can come through, 35 to 50...I don’t know that I can answer specifically what we’ll be doing, but I do know [Santa Fe youths are] at the forefront of our mind.”
Means also envisions more collaborations with the nearby Santa Fe Children’s Museum and the New Mexico Military Museum.
“We want to be a location that people come back to,” she concludes.