Board President Mark Olthoff has helped to lead Artist Trust through a year of transformation and learning. He spoke with us about becoming more aware, the power of creatives, his hopes for next year, and more. Read more below.
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What is your role at Artist Trust and what do you enjoy about it?
I’m the President of the Board of Directors. I enjoy playing a part in our state-wide creative culture through the important work that Artist Trust does. As financial pressure mounts, it is harder for artists to succeed in our state, and the effect could be devastating. I’m proud to be working alongside an incredibly talented and devoted board, staff, volunteers, and donors to increase Artist Trust’s support to all artists and to keep our state strong.
How are you involved in the arts?
I work in a creative field—I’m an architect, a Principal at Olson Kundig—and my work is influenced and inspired by other designers, but especially by artists. We see the world differently through their eyes and bold acts. My work is closely related to the arts, from inspiration to collaboration with artists, and by creating spaces for people who appreciate and support the arts to live meaningful lives. Working to support a creative culture is exciting, and giving back to the community that I’ve benefited personally and professionally from feels obligatory to me.
What has 2020 taught you both personally and professionally?
Where to start… It’s been a year of learning. From organizational challenges, COVID19, the fires, election, and the tragedy of the death of our Black country-mates at the hands of those who are supposed to protect us… Personally, I’m more aware of the fragility of our institutions and the need for all of us to work hard for fairness and justice, and not rely on others to do that. Professionally, the importance of strong relationships, hard work, and the power of the creative act to change lives has been reinforced.
How will you carry those lessons into 2021?
I’m writing this on the weekend before the 2020 election during a massive spike in infections due to COVID19. I’m not sure how I will carry these lessons forward, frankly. I know that listening is more important than ever, and so is action.
What excites you about what you’ve learned/the changes Artist Trust has made or will make?
I know that Artist Trust can help change the lives of people in so many ways. I’m grateful to be a part of that alongside so many who support this great organization. I’m looking forward to seeing the hard, dedicated labor that the community, staff, and the board has done this year transform the organization and make it more just and strong, so the mission can thrive far into the future. We still have a lot of work to do, and we are all committed to that work. It is inspiring.
What is your vision for a stronger Artist Trust?
I hope for an organization that is always working towards becoming a more equitable organization, grounded by strong community support for all of its efforts, and always growing in the ways it supports artists and our state’s creative culture.