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Americans for the Arts elects Edgar L. Smith Jr. as board chair

The nonprofit gives a nationwide voice to the importance of the arts, including Broadway.

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) has announced the results of its board of directors elections. Longtime board member Edgar L. Smith Jr. was elected chair of the board. Smith succeeds Julie Muraco, AFTA’s first female chair.

Smith has a long history with the organization dedicated to increasing nationwide awareness and support for the arts. Smith spent five years as vice chair of the board of directors, and previously served as chairman of the executive board of the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), a division of AFTA. Beyond AFTA, Smith has held tenures on the boards of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and currently serves on the boards of Interlochen Center for the Arts, Equity Arc and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Smith is the founder, chairperson and CEO of World Pac Paper, LLC, a 20-year-old eco-conscious paper distributor.

“We are so pleased that Edgar Smith has taken on the role of board chair at Americans for the Arts,” said Nolen Bivens, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, in a statement. “Edgar deeply understands our work, mission and desire to support the arts on all levels, from local to national. As a collaborator and partner throughout his years on the board, I know that Edgar has the vision and expertise to help lead AFTA into its next phase as we continue to build our memberships and advance our efforts to make sure that the arts are available to all.”

“It’s an honor for me to have been elected chair of the AFTA Board,” Smith noted. “Throughout my personal and professional life, the arts have been a constant for me, and the opportunity to serve Americans for the Arts in this leadership role is one that I cherish, because I know the positive impact that the arts can have on everyday life. I look forward to working with my board colleagues, staff and leadership at AFTA to help support the arts in communities across our nation.”

AFTA also announced the election of Kristina Newman-Scott and Chris Cutler as secretary and treasurer, respectively, of the board’s executive committee. Newman-Scott is the executive director of the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at New York Public Radio. Cutler previously served as board director and chair of the investment committee.

Founded in 1960, AFTA serves to advance the arts on a national and local level through research and advocacy. Their research studies were vital in quantifying the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts industry —Broadway included. In the last 30 years, AFTA has conducted an economic impact study of the arts every five years, a tool used to amplify the arts in policy decision-making. AFTA’s most recent report indicated that in 2022, nonprofit arts and culture organizations contributed $151.7 billion to the nation’s economy.