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Arts Agency Names Lionell Thomas Interim Director

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Contact: [email protected], Outreach Coordinator (202) 724-5613
Lionell Thomas, deputy director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, has been named the Interim Director. Anne Ashmore-Hudson, chair, noted, "In a career spanning 20 years, Lionell Thomas has proven himself a dedicated and thoughtful administrator with a commitment to maximizing institutional resources. He will be a great asset in developing strategic collaborations for the Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The board of directors and staff look forward to welcoming Lionell into his new interim role.” Lionell defines his primary focus as the need to ensure that the cultural resources of the District are used responsibly to affect the cultual life of our city.

Lionell began his career with the DC Arts Commission as an intern and has worked with the Commission in various capacities for over 21 years. He was previously the agency’s deputy director with oversight of day-to-day administrative operations, planning, finance and resource development. During his tenure Lionell has demonstrated a long history of developing sucessful cultural policy and programming that continue to meet the needs of District residents. He has focused extensively on programs that make arts experiences accessible to the broader community and to persons traditionally underserved or separated from the cultural mainstream due to geographic location, economic constraints, or disability. Major programs that have been spearheaded under his leadership include the following:

East of the River Arts Initiative–nationally touted Program that supports arts organizations for the creation of “hubs” of cultural activities east of the Anacostia River;

Small Projects Program–providing essential quick response technical assistance funding to emerging artists and arts organizations;

UPSTART Program–providing community-based arts organizations with funding, intensive leadership education and training to assist with core management and administrative functions; and

Cultural Facilities Program–supporting organizations with capital funding support in the form of matching grants to help defray costs related to the improvement, expansion and rehabilitation of existing buildings owned or leased by nonprofit cultural institutions. 

Lionell held a host of other responsibilities prior to being named the deputy director for the DC Arts Commission such as the legislative and grants manager, grants assistant, mailing list coordinator, program officer for media, music, visual arts and craft, and literature grant programs and program coordinator for a number of special projects and initiatives such as the Customer Service, Risk Management, Washington Writers’ Week/Larry Neal Writers’ Awards Program, Mayor’s Arts Awards, and Arts Resource Fair. He also founded the DC Advocates for the Arts, a network of local artists, arts professionals and arts representatives and patrons that support the ongoing development arts and culture in Washington, DC.

A native Washingtonian, Lionell is a graduate of the DC Public School System. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh. Lionell was an on-air personality and anchor for WPTS-FM, the only one hour evening radio news program in Pittsburgh in the 1980s. Lionell has also served as the National Co-chair for State Arts Agencies’ Assistant/Deputy Directors and the Grant Managers through the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and is an advisory board member for the Foundation Center in Washington, DC. He has received numerous accolades and commendations for his outstanding service to the community and has been featured in national arts publications. In his spare time, he enjoys tennis, swimming and bowling.