Big changes are happening in leadership positions all across Palm Beach County arts institutions. Here’s a look at four of them, starting with perhaps the most surprising transition.

At the end of the 2014-2015 season, Joe Gillie will be stepping down as president and CEO of Delray Beach Center for the Arts. The board is looking at breaking up his position into a number of different jobs, and is eying current Assistant Artistic Director, Brian Ridolfo, for the post of Artistic Director.

“Time flies so fast, and that’s why I wanted to give [the board] plenty of time,” Gillie tells Boca Raton. “As you know, we’ve seen some organizations who did not do any succession planning fall by the wayside, i.e., the Caldwell. And I realized, I’m not going to get into that. I’m not going to leave it to fate. I’ve given a big chunk of my life here, and I want to see that it continues, and continues strong.”

A big chunk indeed: At the end of next year, Gillie will have put in 23 years at Old School Square, helping to build two of the region’s most successful venues—the Crest Theatre and the Cornell Museum—into arts powerhouses, with frequently sold-out events ranging from national theater tours to string music festivals, celebrity lectures, concerts, cabaret performances and film screenings. Gillie, who will turn 65 next year, has become such a fixture in Delray’s cultural scene that it’s hard to imagine Atlantic Avenue without him.

“People go, ‘you can’t retire, what are you retiring for?’ I go, ‘because I’m old!’” he says. “I’m not going to retire rich, working at a nonprofit all these years, but I’ll hopefully be able to live fairly comfortably and do what I want to do.”

Gillie says this will include a lot of traveling, consulting and maybe returning to stage acting, his profession for 16 years of his life.

“My options are open, but I think I’ve given a substantial part of my life here, and I think it’s time to share it with other people and let them be creative and move it forward in a whole new direction, maybe. And I’m not stepping away from the organization; I won’t just disappear into the sunset. If they need me, I’m always a text message away.”


Elsewhere across the county, Irvin Lippman has been appointed director of the Boca Museum of Art. Lippman, a museum director with a lengthy list of credits including a 10-year tenure with Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, stepped in as Interim Director in February at the Boca Museum, following the sudden departure of Steven Maklansky. The search committee for a new full-time director led right back to Lippman himself, who accepted the position this month, relocating from his native Texas. (For more on Lippman, be sure to pick up the November issue of Boca Raton).


The Society of the Four Arts has likewise named a new president/CEO to replace the influential Ervin Duggan, who concluded his 13-year reign last month. Dr. David W. Breneman, currently University Professor and Newton and Rita Meyers Professor in Economics of Education and Public Policy at The University of Virginia, will succeed Duggan effective Jan. 1.

Breneman will bring decades of prestigious and eclectic credits to the Society, from a fellowship at the Brookings Institution to authorship of an award-winning book to a visiting professorship at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His career, leading up to his trailblazing work raising some $100 million to found the University of Virginia’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, has focused largely on the importance of education, and of liberal-arts education in particular.

Breneman is expected to increase the Society’s outreach to the community through its expanding Campus on the Lake continuing education programs.


And finally, it has been more than a year since Tom Gregerson, senior curator at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, bid sayonara to the museum after 35 years. But the venerable institution has finally announced his replacement: Tamara Joy, whose previous positions encompass an ideal mix of visual art and Japanese culture. The New Mexico native, who once researched traditional paper-making in the Japanese city of Yamagata, formerly worked with Japan Society Gallery in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, where she served as curator of Asian and Middle East Collections.

In a statement, she called her Morikami appointment a “dream job for me. … it feels as though I’ve been working my way toward this opportunity my entire professional museum career.” She looks forward to ushering the Morikami through “an exciting phase of growth and expansion.”