The timing of Jonathon Glus’s exit from Houston Arts Alliance is definitely peculiar.
Despite the multiple controversies and hiccups surrounding the awarding of Ed Wilson’s art commission from HAA, Wilson’s impressive result, Soaring in the Clouds, now hangs inside the new grand foyer of the George R. Brown Convention Center. And right on time for Super Bowl 51, which was the plan all along.
Additionally, on Wednesday, Houston City Council gave the go-ahead to an increase in the grant funding available to small arts and cultural organizations. According to a press release from Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office, HAA, which is in charge of managing the city’s civic-art commissions and grant programs that are funded by hotel occupancy taxes, is expected to increase its grants budget by 6 percent.
Yesterday, in the heat of Super Bowl mania and with Houston City Council steering more funds to Houston arts, Glus, in an exit letter posted to the HAA website, announced that he’s leaving the organization after nearly a decade at the top.
It has been a great honor to serve as Houston Arts Alliance’s first chief executive officer over the past nine years. The time has come for me to pursue new challenges and therefore I will be resigning my position with HAA.
The past nine years the agency has evolved successfully into the public/private partnership originally envisioned in 2006. Together we created a well-respected organization that is now recognized nationally as a standard in the industry.
To HAA’s naysayers — and there are many of them — Glus’s sayonara is normcore for the often-criticized organization.
While HAA has been an invaluable financial and business know-how resource for emerging arts organizations trying to make a leap to the midsize level, the third-party outfit, which is Houston’s official arts and culture organization, has also been accused of falling victim to arts politics and general ineptitude, as chronicled in the Houston Press’s December 2015 investigation. The biggest flub occurred in 2014 when Wilson’s $830,000 award was rescinded because he wasn’t a “blue-chip” artist.
Glus didn’t respond to the Press’s request for comment. We’ll update this post if we hear back. Until then, we’re left with a letter that doesn’t explain why Glus is leaving.
It has been a sincere privilege to serve Houston and its many communities. I ask you to join me in celebrating the first decade in the life of Houston Arts Alliance, and in support of its future.
With warm regards and tremendous gratitude,