MIAMI – Seasoned arts executive and entrepreneur Dennis Scholl will be Oolite Arts’s new president and CEO, the organization’s board announced today, leading the pioneering arts organization into its next chapter at a pivotal time in its history.
Scholl, a change agent known for his ability to scale cultural efforts and enterprises, will focus on creating a holistic environment for Miami’s artists. At ArtCenter, they will be able to learn from the best local and national cultural practitioners, experience ground-breaking exhibitions and work in studios to develop their artistic practice.
In addition, under Scholl, the ArtCenter will extend much-needed direct support to resident artists for production, training and travel.
The ArtCenter, a major cultural institution in South Florida for three decades and recognized as one of the catalysts in the renaissance of Miami’s Beach’s famed Lincoln Road, recently sold its landmark building, providing the organization with an $88 million endowment to expand its role in serving the city’s growing cultural community. The hiring of Scholl, an entrepreneur, art collector and most recently, the national vice president for arts at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is a “gamechanger” for the organization, said Kim Kovel, ArtCenter’s board chair.
“We’re so fortunate that Dennis has agreed to lead the ArtCenter. He’s a nationally recognized arts activist who will help us achieve our goal to be a leader on the national arts map,” Kovel said.
Said Scholl, “The visual arts are my professional and personal passion. When the ArtCenter approached me to lead them through this sea change moment, both for the organization and for Miami, I jumped at the chance.”
From 2009 to 2015, Scholl was the vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. He launched the foundation’s arts program, leading it to national acclaim and overseeing close to $200 million in grants. There, he also developed and scaled unique national offerings including the Knight Arts Challenge and Random Acts of Culture, whose pop-up performances have been received enthusiastically and replicated across the country.
“Dennis’ entrepreneurial vision shaped Knight Foundation’s Arts program. He has an eye for what’s original, what’s interesting, what’s challenging, and he runs with it – to great success. I’m looking forward to watching him transform ArtCenter and provide a new lift to the arts in South Florida,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president, of Knight Foundation.
Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Rocco Landesman also worked closely with Scholl at Knight.
“During my tenure at the National Endowment for the Arts, I turned to Dennis for advice on occasions too numerous to count,” Landesman said. “He combines fresh perspectives with wisdom, good sense with boldness and fearlessness. The arts come truly alive in any conversation with Dennis Scholl: as a patron, innovator and advocate, Dennis is exceptional.”
Over the last 20 years, Scholl has created a series of initiatives dedicated to building the contemporary art collections of museums, including the Guggenheim, the Tate Modern and the Pérez Art Museum Miami, which have resulted in hundreds of patron-funded art acquisitions for these institutions. He has served on the boards and executive committees of ArtPlace; the Aspen Art Museum; Detroit Institute of Arts; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; the Pérez Art Museum Miami; and the Linda Pace Foundation. He has been named three times to the annual WESTAF list of the Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in the Nonprofit Arts, and along with his wife, Debra, received the National Service in the Arts Award from the Anderson Ranch Art Center.
Scholl is also a filmmaker, and has received 11 regional Emmys for his cultural documentaries, including films about Tracey Emin, Theaster Gates, Wynton Marsalis and Frank Gehry. A former Harvard University Advanced Leadership Fellow and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab Visiting Scholar, Scholl is the co-founder of Betts & Scholl and Mother Tongue Shiraz, which produce award-winning wines in Australia and France.
Previously, Scholl was a practicing attorney and CPA.
Scholl will officially join the ArtCenter in September. Maria del Valle, the organization’s executive director has agreed to stay with the center through the transition.