CLASS of DiverseWorks
The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences recently appointed an artistic director at DiverseWorks as the director of the newly created Center for Arts Leadership, an inaugural program of the UH Arts initiative.
Appointed by CLASS Dean John Roberts, Sixto Wagan has nearly 20 years of experience as a performing arts curator, educator and public art administrator. He has worked with DiverseWorks — the nonprofit art center in Houston that commissions and presents contemporary visual, performing and literary art — since 2002 and has served as performing arts director, co-executive director, performing arts curator and artistic director since 2011.
“I am delighted that someone with Mr. Wagan’s experience and vision has accepted the challenge of developing this new center,” Roberts said. “Mr. Wagan will be a key player in making UH Arts a national model for community collaboration around the arts.”
During his tenure at DiverseWorks, Wagan organized more than 100 projects and developed a reputation for collaborating with performers whose works tackle prescient cultural, social and political issues. With his new appointment, Wagan will direct the center’s activities outside the classroom to encourage innovation within the classrooms.
“The center will explore how leadership, especially in the arts, can be responsive and reflective of the changing demographics in Houston and nationally,” Wagan said. “Through annual symposia and strategic partnerships between university and community entities, the center will investigate, create and test leadership practices.”
The center will also promote collaborations and joint investigations across the departments in CLASS, capitalizing on artistic successes and investigations by the University’s students and faculty.
“With recent surveys highlighting how the demographics of Houston reflect the future of America, the center has the opportunity to inform the national conversation on how art, artists and creative communities can take leadership roles in our society,” Wagan said.
For the past several years, Wagan worked as a community collaborator with the School of the Arts, Moores School of Music, the Blaffer Museum and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and said he is excited to continue his partnership as a colleague within the University.
“I’m definitely honored to launch the Center for Arts Leadership,” Wagan said. “I’m excited to be part of a University that recognizes how important art and community are to its growth. With the Center for Arts Leadership, we have an opportunity to develop a national model for community collaboration in the arts.”
As the director for the Center for Arts Leadership, Wagan will be working with the director of the Master’s Program for Arts Leadership to build a program that looks at community collaboration and effective leadership practices.
“With the new Master of Arts in Arts Leadership program welcoming its first class this fall, we are well on our way to establishing the University of Houston as the destination for students and arts professionals interested in arts leadership,” Roberts said.
The Center for Arts Leadership brings academic investigation into conversation. Some of the initial points of investigation are how arts leadership translates beyond the arts community, how theory informs practice and how real-world success can spawn new theories.
“This is a critical time for us to discover how institutions can utilize arts and creative leadership to respond to a culture that continues to change radically with technology and the new demographics. I hope the Center is that place for a community of learners to further develop the difficult questions to ask, the ideas to test and measurements for success,” Wagon said.