The board of trustees of the International Bluegrass Music Museum today announced an important transition in its administrative leadership that reflects the organisation’s rising stature and maturity as a centre of preservation and innovation in bluegrass music.
Gabrielle M. Gray, the museum’s chief executive, ends her exceptional 12-year tenure as the museum’s creative leader and retires as executive director. Gray retains her position as Executive Producer of ROMP, the signature bluegrass music festival she founded in 2004. Gray also remains the museum’s primary grant writer.
Carly Smith, a staff member since May 2011 and the museum’s assistant director,, will assume the role Interim Director. The museum’s board, chaired by Peter Salovey, the president of Yale University, will conduct a nationwide search for a new executive director.
This is a tremendous convergence of events that strengthens the museum’s work to promote bluegrass music.
The shift in leadership responds to Gabrielle’s desire to focus on ROMP and fundraising, giving the museum continuity and keeping her closely connected to the project that has become a signature event in the nation and helped to brand Owensboro as a leading worldwide center of bluegrass music.
The leadership transition that starts today comes after months of preparation and follows more than a decade of steady growth in the International Bluegrass Music Museum’s programs and activities, fostered by the close collaboration between Owensboro philanthropist Terry Woodward, the museum’s 21-member board of trustees, and Gabrielle Gray.
Gray’s work to establish Owensboro’s national and global reputation as the center of bluegrass music is most closely identified with ROMP, the annual music festival that attracts the finest bands in bluegrass roots and branches music with over 20,000 people attending during its annual run at the end of each June. The festival’s success is due in large part to the close working relationships Gray formed with the IBMM board’s ROMP committee and her staff, including Carly Smith, whom Gray hired to help manage volunteers and ground activities at the festival and run administrative operations at the museum.
Gray leaves her directorship having constructed a strong foundation for future excellence at the museum, including an operating endowment exceeding $1million.
It gives me great pleasure to see how far we’ve come as a museum and as a performing arts entity in our community. All of our programs have grown by leaps and bounds. Working in close partnership with Carly Smith for the past three years has given me complete confidence in her ability to guide staff and operations at the museum while the Board of Trustees search for a new Executive Director. We have a dedicated Board of Trustees, two of whom – Rosemary Conder and Ross Leazenby – are assisting with this transition.
I am delighted to remain in the leadership coalition of the museum, to write its grants and produce what I and many others consider to be one of the finest music festivals in the world. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than presenting the best musicians in the world in the finest atmosphere at Yellow Creek Park. Nothing makes me happier than experiencing amazing music and sharing it with my local and global community. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the terrific staff at IBMM, and the trustees, especially Terry Woodward at the City of Owensboro, Daviess County Fiscal Court, Kentucky Arts Council, all our granting agencies and foundations, ROMP sponsors, Museum and Center donors, members and supporters, volunteers and attendees – all the thousands of people who have been so instrumental in enthusiastically elevating the bluegrass museum to carry the banner for Owensboro, Kentucky, and for bluegrass music worldwide. All these entities working together have made it possible for ROMP to advance to the position it now holds in the pantheon of great American festivals, and for the International Bluegrass Music Museum to responsibly preserve the history and artifacts of this amazing, international music genre – Gabrielle Gray.
For More Information:
Mike Simpson, Board Vice-Chairman and ED Search Committee Chairman
Carly Smith, IBMM Director
Gabrielle Gray, ROMP Executive Producer