Fox takes helm of Fairfield Arts Council
"I am so happy to be here," she beams. "The arts are my passion and my love. Being in this position really feels right."
She credits her predecessors with giving her a solid base to build on. "Billie Jean Sullivan, and Ryan Odinak before her, created an arts agency that has a wonderful platform," says Fox. "I intend to keep the momentum going." The recent departure of Sullivan as FAC's executive director presented a prime career opportunity to Fox, who has been immersed in the Westport arts scene since 2004.
Most recently, Fox held the title of producer/writer/chairwoman for "Years in the Making: A Journey into Late Life Creativity," a film project that documents the lives of working Westport- and Weston-based artists 70 years old and over. "I started working on the films in 2007 and we wrapped up in June. I interviewed with FAC the day after the project was completed," she says.
While working on the films, Fox singlehandedly raised the entire production budget of $160,000 in less than 10 months through grant writing, capital campaign solicitations and special events. She also played an integral role in script development, editing, post-production and marketing the film for distribution.
In 2008, she secured $50,000 in state grant money for the film project, part of $1.1 million awarded to help fund projects that enrich cultural attractions and draw visitors to Connecticut. The grant, awarded by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, was the result of $4 million in new funding allocated by Gov. M. Jodi Rell in the state's 2007-08 budget.
"I asked for $25,000 and they gave us $50, 000," says Fox, who also managed production budget/year-end financial audits and generated final assessment reports to the grantors.
Additionally, Fox conducted on-camera interviews; developed publicity, web and marketing materials; coordinated press coverage and served as lead spokeswoman while supervising a force of 25 volunteer workers.
"Years in the Making" was extracted from hundreds of hours of accumulated archival footage and has gone on to win two first-place film festival laurels for Best Feature Documentary.
"These films are beautifully rendered testimonials about life, history, perseverance and art; they offer insight into the creative process and encouragement about pursuing a career in a creative field," says Fox. "All of this material has been assembled into a boxed set of 50 double DVDs and will be given to the schools in Westport and Weston, their libraries and historical societies."
Fox, too, is an artist and communications professional. She is a painter and photographer who sits on the Town of Westport's Arts Advisory Council, appointed by First Selectman Gordon Joseloff. She also has helped to produce and promote Westport's annual Arts Awards Ceremony and, since 2004, she has been the curator of the Westport Schools' Permanent Art Collection.
Her artwork has been on view locally. "Heads & Hands," a photography show held in 2009 at the Westport Historical Society, challenged viewers to match photos of the hands of artists with separate photographs of their faces. "I thought the matching game would be intriguing for kids, but the adults got involved as well," she says.
Next month, Fox's "The Mullet Show" will open at Pequot Library in Southport. "I have a mullet wig that 20 people wore while I photographed them," she says. "It's a fun, very lighthearted show." Those pictured in the mullet wig include local artists Anne Chernow, Miggs Burroughs and Howard Munce, violinist Paul Davis and filmmaker Martin West (who created "Years in the Making"). The show opens Sept. 11 and concludes Oct. 8.
In her new position at FAC, Fox intends to pool her creativity and fund-raising talents while highlighting works created by the local community of artists.
The mission of the nonprofit FAC is to foster and support the arts and artists in the town of Fairfield. However, Fox says, she also hopes to draw new members from nearby towns.
FAC currently has 300 dues-paying members, 550 Facebook friends, and approximately 1,800 people who receive its weekly E-blasts.
"The town of Fairfield has exceptional artists," states Fox. "In my new position I hope to build FAC membership by creating a cultural bridge between Westport and Fairfield, as well as add to the current programming." She's off to a good start. An exhibit featuring the work of Westport-based artist Nina Bentley will appear in the FAC gallery next month. Titled "Taste of Your Own Medicine," the show's opening reception is set for Sept. 10, 6-8 p.m.
Membership at FAC has already increased under Fox's leadership. Roe Halper, a Westport-based painter, illustrator and sculptress, joined FAC based on Fox's appointment.
"Kristin is a dynamic, positive force who has a concern for local artists," says Halper. "She is respectful the community of artists in this area wants to focus on the work of those of us who are local. I would recommend that other artists in this area become involved in FAC because of her leadership and the excitement she brings to her work."
Fox now is focusing on the Oct. 23 "Artist of the Year" gala, celebrating the work of photographer Thomas Mezzanotte of Fairfield. A film, titled Mezzannotte Obscura, by Lori Petchers, will be shown during the event.
Plans for a November exhibit in the FAC gallery also are under way.
As she settles in to the new position, Fox hopes to add new dimension to the FAC offerings via film and music offerings. "There is a large artists' enclave in Fairfield that includes visual, performing and literary arts," she says. "I think FAC can diversify its programming." In a prepared statement, Randy Weis, FAC's chairman of the board, stated, "With every change in leadership, comes new opportunities for the community, and we are delighted to work with Kristin in the next era at FAC."
For information about the Fairfield Arts Council, visit www.fairfieldartscouncil.org. FAC is located at 70 Sanford St.; the phone number is (203) 319-1419. FAC is closed Aug. 23-30 and will re-open Sept. 1.