City freezes lead arts administrator job, evaluating cultural programs

The city of Asheville has frozen the position of Cultural Arts Superintendent, vacant since the departure of Diane Ruggiero in September, pending a review of the city’s budget process. City staff are also evaluating the department’s programs to determine how to continue providing its “core services.”

“Once the position became vacant, it’s been evaluated, and it’s been delayed for hiring until the city goes through its budget process,” Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Debbie Ivester tells Xpress. “Any time we have a vacant position, it’s always evaluated. Sometimes the position is delayed depending on the specific budget climate.”

Ruggiero, who had served as director since 2008, left to take a job in Alexandria, Va. Her salary was around $65,000 a year.

In the meantime, Ivester says, “we’re looking at operations within the cultural arts division, and determining what we can continue to sustain with the current staff” with an eye towards not dropping too many duties on any one employee.

“Core services” like public art maintenance and festival operations will continue uninterrupted. The popular Easel Rider mobile art lab will continue as well, but will happen less frequently.

“We’re going to have to scale back on how many times it will go out,” Ivester noted. “We’re still determining what we can do while this position remains vacant.”

The city will approve a new budget in June, before the beginning of the next fiscal year.

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