Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach appoints new CEO
John Suau wants to make the Armory Art Center a bigger part of the community. As the new CEO, he will have his chance.
Suau replaces Tom Pearson, who retired in October after six years, as head of the 35-year-old arts education center in West Palm Beach. Suau said he was looking forward to returning to an office after working remotely since the pandemic began.
“My career has brought me to a point where I’m ready to work live. After COVID, I appreciated the opportunity to work in a facility, not remotely,” he said.
Armory is looking for a new leader: Tom Pearson announces his retirement.
With over 20 years of experience in arts administration, Suau has most recently worked as a consultant for several technology companies working with libraries and museums at his Florida-based company, Suau Diversified. During the pandemic, his company has helped cultural organizations use technology to improve the visitor experience “in the post-COVID-19 reality”.
Former executive director of the Historical Society of Washington, DC, Suau oversaw the redesign and construction of its DC History Center at the Carnegie Library. He sees similarities in the Armory’s 1929 facility, which he said needs to be brought up to “contemporary standards” structurally, including a new roof.
“This experience made me feel comfortable with what is needed here,” he said, noting that any work at the facility should take into account that it is on the National Register of Historic Places. .
The new director has experience operating and cultivating environments centered on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, and that work will continue at the Armory, he said. .
Classes at the Armory are “exceptional”, he said, adding that he would like to make them “more inclusive” for underserved parts of the community.
“We’re trying to provide a resource for the creative community. … Hopefully we’ll become more part of the cultural fabric here,” he said.
He has already contacted organizations such as the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach and the Historical Society of Palm Beach County to seek ways for groups to partner on projects, Suau said.
“I am thrilled and honored to lead the Armory Art Center into a future that fully embraces the region’s diversity to create exciting opportunities for artistic expression and arts education in the 21st century,” he said. .
Suau’s other accomplishments include creating a cultural competency training program for the American Alliance of Museums in partnership with the Smithsonian Office of Educational Technology, leading the first national coalition of diverse museum professionals, and l establishment of a national scholarship program for various museum professionals, according to the Armory and suaudiversified.net.
He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design from the University of Iowa and a Master of Arts Administration from American University in Washington, DC.