Rob Smulian moves on 

The Contemporary says goodbye

Atlanta Contemporary Art Center Executive Director Rob Smulian will be leaving his position at the end of July for a new post as vice president of philanthropic services at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. Smulian said a larger salary was one draw of the Community Foundation job, "but I think it's giving me an opportunity to work with a really broad cross-section of the donor community in Atlanta." The Community Foundation has $600 million in assets. The Contemporary's budget is currently $600,000.

Smulian became the Contemporary's executive director in 2002 after years of serving on the institution's board of directors. He came to the Contemporary from the Georgia Conservancy, where he was vice president of finance and administration.

Smulian's job at the Community Foundation will allow him to broaden his philanthropic scope outside of contemporary art, to help match donors with organizations in line with their interests in areas including health, education, the arts and community development.

Former board President Missi McMorries, who also served as interim director when former Executive Director Sam Gappmayer left the Contemporary in 2002, will serve as interim director during the search for a new executive director.

Under Smulian, who holds a master's degree in business from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, the Contemporary was able to go from operating at a deficit when he joined the organization in July 2002 to operating in the black by 2005. During Smulian's tenure, the Contemporary also secured a 2003 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts grant, brought the IMAGE Film & Video Center into the Contemporary space and launched the popular workshop series Artist Survival Skills, underwritten by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.

Smulian says he is leaving the Contemporary on solid financial footing when Atlanta's support of contemporary art "is getting better.

"There are more institutions dedicated to contemporary art, and the more there are, the better," he says. "Whether it's in the commercial galleries in districts like Castleberry or institutions like us or [the Museum of Contemporary Art] or Eyedrum, I think it's improved in the last few years."

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