Wyoming Arts Council

Former WAC director wins NASAA award

Some Wyoming-related anecdotes from your on-the-road crew in Baltimore for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies conference….

David Fraher was just named the recipient of NASAA“s 2007 Gary Young Award. Those who’ve been in Wyoming longer that 25 years may remember David as the director of the Wyoming Arts Council in the early eighties. Before that, he was in charge of the agency’s Poets in the Schools program, which later morphed into Arts in Education (AIE) and the Literature program. On the dais at the awards luncheon today, he remembered how he came to Wyoming.

Thirty-one years ago, he was working in Washington, D.C., for a non-profit that specialized in legal issues. He’d finished graduate school and was living in a tiny apartment on D.C.’s Capitol Hill. His poet mentor, Carolyn Kizer, called from Lander, Wyoming. “Darling,” said Ms. Kizer, “the Wyoming Arts Council needs somebody to run its Poets in the Schools program.” She thought that David would be perfect for the job. He was a budding poet and a college graduate, after all, and he was gainfully employed, that proved he was educated and and at least somewhat reliable.

He got the job, which surprised him because he considered himself woefully under-qualified. The arts administration field was young back then, he said at the luncheon today, and a state agency was willing to take a chance on him. These days, with the growth in professionalism and heavy-duty competition for jobs, he guessed he would never be interviewed, let alone get the job.

Wyoming gave David the jump-start for a long career. For more than 25 years, he’s been executive director of Arts Midwest, the regional arts agency with nine member-states, from Ohio to North Dakota. He’s served on the boards of NASAA, the Western States Arts Federation, and the Hennepin Arts Center in Minneapolis, Minn. He’s worked with governments and arts organizations in 14 countries, and travels widely.

Congratulations to this one-time Wyomingite who’s made a huge impact on the national arts scene.

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