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Out of the frying pan, into the fire

On March 17, longtime ARTS San Antonio Executive Director and President Frank Villani will cross the funding aisle to the City's Office of Cultural Affairs, where he'll take over an expanded version of the role previously filled by Ernesto Rubio, who retired February 29.

Rubio's official title was executive assistant, but his job duties grew along with the city's arts scene, and in recent years, its arts funding. Villani's title will be Cultural Affairs Manager, and his job description includes overseeing the often contentious arts funding program. Villani says his experience as a recipient of City cultural funds, and as a member of the Cultural Alliance, will help him strengthen and improve the public funding system, which distributes HOT tax proceeds to local cultural organizations using peer-panel ratings and City-staff reviews in a process overseen by the Cultural Affairs Board.

"I think when you look at any type of funding process, you always have to have the process evolve," Villani said of OCA's system, which recently was overhauled. "I think that's what everyone wants, is a level playing field."

"It's a definite asset, someone who's been in the community the past 20 years," said OCA Director Felix Padron. "The learning curve will be diminished" because Villani already knows the players and dynamics that make up the scene. They share a common vision for the arts-funding process, Padron added.

ARTS San Antonio, which presents a season of diverse programming ranging from dance to theater to live music, has just begun the search process to replace Villani, but Padron says he's not worried that OCA's gain will be ARTS loss: "What really maintains a good organization is their board."

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 3/5/2008
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