*Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has been let go from her position as president and CEO of the prominent art institution Newfields in Indianapolis.
Burnette became Newfields’ first Black female director in August 2022. Fifteen months later, she’s been ousted, and a news release did not explain her departure.
Burnette replaced the former Newfields CEO Charles Venable after he resigned amid “public outcry over an Indianapolis Museum of Art director job post that sought to maintain the organization’s “traditional, core, white art audience” while increasing the diversity of Newfields visitors,” per WFYI News.
WFYI previously interviewed Burnette about “how she intended to address accusations that the art museum and its campus are not a welcoming place for all,” the outlet writes.
“First of all, we embrace those accusations. I think it’s something that we can learn from. In Austin, Texas, which is where I was immediately before coming here, I was super engaged in that community to be able to address racial challenges that we had about, you know, becoming the anti-racist or becoming open, and open access to sensibility, diversity, sustainability,” Burnett said.
“I think it’s real important that I encourage my team to learn from where we stand to help us to move forward. There’s a new definition of what a museum is and the word diversity and inclusivity is in that definition. Where museums across the world are experiencing this renaissance moment, this evolution moment of who we are as institutions and how we serve our constituents, our patrons, our members, our guests, and we’re at a place in history where we can either make this a moment or a movement,” Burnett continued.
“I want Newfields, to be a part of that movement, so that we are really opening ourselves up and facing outward as opposed to inward. So, we embrace what happened and we learn from it, and we keep moving forward, as opposed to being stuck in it or repeating that history,” she explained.
In a statement announcing her departure, Newfield thanked Burnett for her service.
“We thank Dr. Burnette for her service to Newfields,” said Newfields Board of Trustees Chair Darrianne Christian in the news release, Indy Star reports. “She helped deepen our relationships with the community and championed the transformative powers of art and nature. We are grateful for her work on behalf of Newfields and wish her well in her future endeavors.”
Michael Kubacki, Chairman of Lake City Bank and Lakeland Financial Corporation, has been appointed interim president and CEO by the Board of Trustees.
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