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McColl Center for Arts + Innovation, Suzanne Fetscher Announces Plans to Retire

"I’ve treasured the time we’ve spent building McColl Center into a place where artists can develop ideas, grow their creative practice, and make our community a better place.”

After nearly two decades of leading Charlotte’s first and longest-running artist residency program, Suzanne Fetscher, Founding President and CEO of McColl Center for Art + Innovation has announced she will retire this fall. Under her leadership, McColl Center has emerged as one of the leading socially-engaged artist residency programs in the United States. 

“It has been an honor to lead McColl Center for nearly twenty years,” said Fetscher. “None of the work we have accomplished could have been done without an outstanding team of passionate and dedicated people: artists, staff, board members, donors, community partners, and many others. I’ve treasured the time we’ve spent building McColl Center into a place where artists can develop ideas, grow their creative practice, and make our community a better place.”

“Suzanne came to us with new ideas, knowledge, and, more important, the leadership capabilities to implement them,” said Hugh McColl, Jr., retired Bank of America CEO, referencing the early days of the organization. “She took us from a kernel of an idea, and a building, to a center where artists can innovate and be creative.”

“She has given us twenty years of guidance and creativity, and it’s made McColl Center a success,” McColl added. “She made Charlotte a city of creativity and McColl Center a place for artists to be nurtured, do their thing, and be rewarded for it.”

When Fetscher first arrived in Charlotte in 1998, McColl Center for Art + Innovation (originally called Tryon Center for the Arts) was an innovative idea with rented offices in Spirit Square, two full-time employees, and borrowed furniture and board members. Within eighteen months, the Center hired a staff, designed a robust public program, moved in to the retrofitted old church building where McColl Center currently resides, purchased all the equipment for the studios, curated the first year of exhibitions, and issued the first call for and selected the first year’s cohort of artists in residence.

Fetscher developed a strong organizational culture of collaboration and worked with more than seventy-five organizations in Charlotte. She effectively led the organization through two economic downturns, established an environmental artist-in-residence program with installations around the community, and secured nearly $2 million in grant funding for the development and growth of the groundbreaking artist-led creativity training program, Innovation Institute. During her tenure, McColl Center received two major ArtPlace America grants: $400,000 in 2014 for the Brightwalk Art + Ecology Campus, and $350,000 in 2017 for the Tale of Two Cities project, which made the Center one of only two organizations in the U.S. to ever receive two ArtPlace America creative placemaking grants. Fetscher has also co-led arts administration courses nationally and internationally, most recently in 2015 for young museum leaders in Qatar. She is also a former board member of the Alliance of Artists Communities.

“Suzanne’s vision and commitment have been fundamental in the growth and success of McColl Center,” said Cassie Brown, chair of McColl Center’s board of directors. “All of us on the board are grateful for her role in bringing artists and communities together to engage with contemporary art and each other.”

After her departure from McColl Center, Fetscher and her husband Elmar will remain in Charlotte. She plans to explore new opportunities, including consulting and writing.

“It’s time for fresh leadership at McColl Center,” said Fetscher. “I’m leaving the organization in the hands of a staff and board of directors with fresh energy and new ideas. I’m excited to watch them guide McColl Center in a bold new direction."

More about McColl Center for Art + Innovation

McColl Center for Art + Innovation's residency program is dedicated to supporting artists regionally, nationally and internationally and promoting contemporary art. Fusing a regional character with a national and international perspective, the Center is a place where artists work, conduct research and where exhibitions introduce a broad public to a variety of contemporary art practices. The Center's goal is to present art and artists in a way that engages and enriches the public while revealing the creative process through open studios, community engagements, exhibitions, and educational programs. Read more: