The Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, announced today the hire of Kesha Bruce to the position of Artist Programs Manager. Bruce joins Artist Programs Coordinator Anna Needham (Red Lake Ojibwe) who was hired this past February.

The Artist Programs Manager position was previously held by Gabriela Muñoz, who left in July to take a position at the National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation at ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Kesha Bruce is an artist, curator, and former Director of Baang + Burne Contemporary Art Gallery. Born and raised in Iowa, she completed a BFA from the University of Iowa before earning an MFA in painting from Hunter College. Her artwork is included in the collections of The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, The Amistad Center for Art and Culture, The University of Iowa Women’s Center, The En Foco Photography Collection, and The Museum of Modern Art-Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kesha to the Arts Commission team,” said Jaime Dempsey, Executive Director. “Kesha brings with her an abundance of skills, talents, and experiences, both as an accomplished working artist and an arts leader working in service of others. We can’t wait to work alongside her to lift up and expand opportunities for artists living and working across our state.” 

Anna Needham (Red Lake Ojibwe) is a theatre artist and indigenous rights advocate. She graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in January 2018 with her BFA in Theatre. She also participated in the 2018 Spring cohort of the Native American Political Leadership Program at George Washington University, through which she completed an internship with the National Endowment for the Arts. Her directing practice centers audience experience in relationship to land and its histories. As an arts administrator, she looks to using her experience in the public sector as a resource for culturally-specific communities to engage with government structures. 

“What a joy and honor to collaborate with Anna, who in a relatively short span of time has made such a vital and significant impact across the Arts Commission’s work. Many Arizona artists have already had an opportunity to work with Anna, and have experienced firsthand her expansive creativity, enthusiasm, and insight,” said Dempsey. “We look forward to what Kesha and Anna will develop and advance together, in partnership with Arizona artists and communities.”