A Chat with Aurora Picture Show's New Executive Director, Sarah Stauder

Aurora Picture Show is always on the hunt for something -- a good film, a good arts collaboration, a new filmmaker -- but its latest acquisition wasn't of the celluloid kind, it was of the executive director kind. Aurora announced last week that its latest search, which began in August, had finally come to fruition. Aurora welcomed Sarah Stauder as its new executive director.

Stauder came from the cold of Rochester, Minnesota, where she served as executive director of the Rochester Art Center from 2008 to 2012. When her husband was offered a position at MD Anderson, Stauder put the feelers out for an arts leadership position within the Houston arts community.

"Houston has such a welcoming community!" Stauder enthuses. "There were e-mails being sent all over town with my name in them."

Those helpful e-mails are what led Stauder to an offer from Aurora.

Stauder brings with her a background in the visual arts, in addition to media, which she plans to incorporate into Aurora's catalog. Aurora has already been moving in a new direction, mixing events and installation with film. Stauder sees her role as facilitator of the organization's growth. With her master's in Arts and Culture Management, Stauder will see that all the systems are "moving forward to a place of strength and sustainability."

Some of that strength has already been put into place. In March, Aurora found a new permanent home in Rice Village. Aurora has been playing the part of nomad for the past few years since leaving its original home, which is now 14 Pews. But with this permanent space, Stauder sees the organization at a very pivotal point in its history.

"Now we can tell people to come to our space," she remarks, "which has a big impact."

The organization is already using the fact that it now has "a legitimate space" in a variety of ways, including an installation piece in the upcoming Cinema Arts Society Festival. They will have regular viewing hours open to the public. This is just the start of such uses for the space and something Stauder is particularly excited about.

While Stauder is looking at the future of Aurora, she realizes that the organization has a rich past and knows she has pretty big shoes to fill. "I have not yet met Andrea," Stauder says, referring to Aurora's founder, Andrea Grover. She acknowledges that Aurora comes with a rich legacy, which she intends to keep intact while moving the organization into the future.

"It's an exciting time for Aurora," says Stauder, and she makes sure to mention how proud she is to be a part of it.

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