SECCA Bids Farewell to Innovative Executive Director

"Mark Leach, executive director of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) since 2008, will be stepping down from his position at the end of the year. Over his 7-year tenure, Leach led SECCA through an important transitional period that secured its spot as an international contributor in the contemporary art world, and has become an important strategic partner to the Winston-Salem community and North Carolina's colleges and universities.

"Mark has been a valued colleague in shepherding SECCA through a multifaceted transition to a sustainable future," says Lawrence J. Wheeler, director of the North Carolina Museum of Art. "Improvements in the physical campus and innovations in exhibitions, programs, and education are admired throughout the community and across North Carolina."

As executive director, Leach provided creative leadership and artistic vision, insuring that the museum's exhibits and programs advance SECCA's mission to bridge art, technology and engagement to enhance perspectives, inspire community and ignite new ideas. In order to replenish the art center's ailing infrastructure, Leach led a $1.8m State appropriated renovation of the art center, including critical systems, interior exhibit spaces and exterior campus, secured the funding for and led the art center's highly successful Pentagram-designed identity transformation and led a campaign to raise $250,000 to transform the McChesney Scott Dunn Auditorium into a state-of-the-art interactive environment. Because public engagement is a strategic cornerstone, he oversaw a $100,000 effort to develop SECCA's new high-tech Education and Exploration Overlook Gallery. 
Strategic partnerships envisioned by Leach positioned SECCA as a North Carolina cultural resource. 

Last year, he forged strategic alliances with North Carolina colleges and universities, businesses and North Carolina AIGA chapters to leverage the art center's exhibit Graphic Design: Now In Production's themes and learning resources for education and audience development objectives. Closer to home, Leach coordinated with the art center's staff, UNCSA faculty, administration and public radio station WFDD's personnel to launch Artist's Studio, a serialized partnership designed to showcase and explore the creative process. Artist's Studio premiered September 21, 2014 in the McChesney Scott Dunn Auditorium.

"I want to commend Mark for all the great things he accomplished as head of SECCA for the last seven years," said F. Borden Hanes Jr., former trustee and president of the SECCA Board. "He leaves this important community cultural asset a better place. SECCA is certainly positioned to move forward positively in the future."

Since Leach became the executive director, SECCA has undergone a visible transformation during a period of renovations and rebuilding, much of it during a challenging economic recession. In addition to the physical challenges that Leach encountered, he inspired his staff to reinvigorate the education and exhibitions programs at SECCA with great success.

"We will miss Mark's expertise leading SECCA," said Susan Kluttz, secretary of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. "He has been such an asset to DCR and I applaud his accomplishments."
During his time at SECCA, Leach also volunteered in the Winston-Salem community. He gave of his time as a mentor to the Winston-Salem Chamber's Graduate it Pays program at North Forsyth High School; he has contributed art works he created to such causes as Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Winterlark annual cancer fundraiser and to Forsyth County's Senior Services Meals-on-Wheels annual campaign. He has also been a member of Stratford Rotary and participated in its annual volunteer Christmas program at Kimberly Park Elementary School.

"During my seven-year tenure as Executive Director, I've had the privilege of recruiting and working alongside many talented professionals as well as a host of supportive SECCA Foundation board members," said Leach. "Together and with the support of our community and citizens across North Carolina, we've realized many successes, not the least of which is a revitalized and steadily improving campus infrastructure.  It is there that our journey begins. Our talented staff have assembled some of the art center's most vital, innovative and memorable exhibits ever organized here.  SECCA is now well-positioned to begin its next exciting chapter."

During his previous 17-year tenure at the Mint Museums, Leach was the Founding Director of the Mint Museum of Craft & Design. There he also held the post of Chief Curator. He is a graduate of the Getty Leadership Institute for Museum Management. Leach received a B.A. in studio ceramics from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and graduated from Harvard University Graduate School of Education with an Ed.M. degree, specializing in 20th century art and nonprofit administration. To his credit are numerous published texts, including Inside Out: Contemporary Japanese Photography, published by the Light Factory Photographic Arts Center and distributed by RAM USA; Leach also contributed to Moulthrop: A Legacy in Wood, published by Crescent Hill Books.  Also to his credit are Michael Lucero: Sculpture 1976-1995, co-published by Hudson Hills Press, New York and the Mint Museum of Art. In May 2000; Harry N. Abrams Inc. and the Mint Museum of Craft + Design co-published and released Turning Wood into Art: The Jane and Arthur Mason Collection, for which Leach served as curator and editor. Leach has authored texts for such publications as the American Alliance of Museums' Excellence and Equity Newsletter, the Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society as well as numerous magazine articles for Metalsmith Magazine, American Ceramics and FIBERARTS Magazine.

"Mark's strength in getting the public to understand the arts and the importance of SECCA was highlighted during the year that SECCA was closed for renovations," said Milton Rhodes, former president and CEO of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. "He reached out to the educational and arts communities to partner on collaborative projects that highlighted SECCA and raised its awareness throughout Winston-Salem. Mark cleverly brought people on site by hosting concerts, distinct shows, unique gallery exhibits, book signings and events that made SECCA a gathering place. An added challenge was that much of this happened during the recession, but Mark always had a positive attitude and we relied on his wisdom.  And it worked.  I think he is a terrific guy and a real pro."

The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C. seeks to enhance perspectives, inspire community and ignite new ideas at the intersection of art and its visitors. Located at 750 Marguerite Drive, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. For hours, please visit SECCA is an affiliate of the North Carolina Museum of Art, a division of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. SECCA receives operational funding from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Additional funding is provided by the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDCR's mission is improve our state's quality of life by creating opportunities that promote economic development, stimulate learning, preserve the state's history and spark creativity to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and spurring the economic stimulus engine for our state's communities. NCDCR's Divisions of State Archives, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina's rich cultural heritage to offer experiences of learning and reflection. NCDCR's State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state to develop and to offer access to educational resources through traditional and online collections including genealogy and resources for people who are blind and have physical disabilities.  
NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives. NCDCR champions our state's creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit"

- A Press Release

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