Alexandra Nelson is the new deputy director for Arizona Commission for the Arts.
Nelson succeeds Jaime Dempsey, who was promoted from deputy director to executive director after Robert Booker retired from the agency in August.
Arizona Commission for the Arts is one of 56 state, regional, and jurisdictional agencies affiliated with the National Endowment for the Arts. Founded in 1967, the agency strengthens Arizona communities through the arts — through activities that include research, grant-making, and arts programming.
Nelson joined the commission as the arts learning coordinator in 2009, and became the director of arts learning in 2011. Last year, Nelson was promoted to senior director of grants and programs.
"Alex has an almost-supernatural blend of talents," Dempsey says in an October 17 press release announcing Nelson's new role. "She is a strong cultivator of skills in others, and no one works harder than Alex."
During her tenure with the commission, Nelson has been instrumental in developing and implementing several key programs and initiatives — including Strengthening Schools Through Arts Partnerships and a grants program called Art Tank. The latter had artists pitch entrepreneurial ideas to community members, who helped decide what projects would receive commission funding. It was canceled after a few years due to budget constraints.
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In 2015, Nelson launched the agency's three-year AZ Creative Aging initiative, and secured $225,000 in grant funding for that initiative from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.
Before joining Arizona Commission on the Arts, Nelson worked as a teaching artist, museum educator, and production manager in dance and theater settings. She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance choreography from ASU, and is currently pursuing a master of fine arts in creative enterprise and cultural leadership at ASU.
As deputy director, Nelson will work alongside Dempsey and other staff members to develop and implement programs that reflect the agency's goal of making the arts more accessible for all Arizonans.
In the October 17 release, Dempsey notes that she's looking forward to her ongoing partnership with Nelson. "I am thrilled that she's chosen to continue dedicating her many gifts in service to Arizonans."