Victoria Ramirez Forsees New Arts Center Drawing a Crowd


Victoria Ramirez Forsees New Arts Center Drawing a Crowd
Victoria Ramirez, executive director of the Arkansas Arts Center (Jason Burt)
Before joining the Arkansas Arts Center, Victoria Ramirez was the director of the El Paso Museum of Art, where she increased the endowment, broadened the scope of exhibitions and renovated galleries and public spaces. Under her leadership, EPMA received the Medal of Honor from the Institute for Museum & Library Services. Previously, she directed the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Ramirez’s work has received recognition from the American Alliance for Museums, the Texas Association of Museums, the National Art Education Association and the American Association for State & Local History.

Ramirez has a degree in art history from the University of Maryland, a master’s  from George Washington University  and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston in Texas.

The multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion of the Arts Center is a big project. Do you have any experience with a project of this scope? What about other relevant experience?

Throughout my career, I have worked on building projects that reflect nearly every aspect of the Arts Center’s operations, including the renovation of gallery spaces, studio classrooms, retail store, back-of-house operations, restaurant and a theater.

Before becoming a director, I worked in museum education, which meant I was responsible for programming for adults and children, school and group tours, classes and more. Because programming occurs throughout a museum facility, I also bring to the Arts Center a keen understanding of how buildings need to function to showcase the arts while comfortably welcoming and engaging the public.

With this, all decisions about the new Arts Center are people-centric, and we are considering visitor needs in every aspect.

What’s the most important goal for a renewed Arts Center to achieve?

We want the new Arts Center to be awe-inspiring — a place where people see or experience something new, beautiful or thought-provoking. As an important goal, we want the new Arts Center to be forward-thinking and showcase the very best of the visual and performing arts. It’s exhilarating to think about what this means when we open in 2022. But we are also considering our longevity, and we want to ensure the building continues to look and function optimally long after we open.

How do you make the business case for the importance of the Arts Center to Arkansas?

Uniquely, the arts are an investment in the present and the future. National studies have shown that for every $100 of economic activity created by museums, an additional $220 is created in other sectors of the U.S. economy. These impacts mean that museums contribute approximately $50 billion to the U.S. economy each year.

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Arts organizations impact not only our current economy, but also the education and quality of life of a place, while continually advancing to ensure long-term impact. Across the globe, there are case studies that support the impact of the arts and how, by nearly every measure, they contribute in an overwhelmingly positive way in the growth of communities.

A thriving arts organization welcomes people of every age and in every ZIP code, and we are committed to offering exhibitions, classes and programming that serve all of our community, and beyond.

What drew you to a career in the arts?

I’m a person who is naturally curious about the world, and when I was growing up I learned about the world through art. Art taught me about history, about faraway places, and introduced me to new ideas. Working in an art museum was my first real job, and I feel so fortunate to have a career that allows me to help to bring enriching arts experiences to others.