(CMR) The Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF) has appointed Natalie Urquhart as interim Chief Executive Officer on a six-month secondment from her role as Director of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.
Ms. Urquhart will lead the Cayman National Cultural Foundation through a period of transition following the departure of directors Henry and Marcia Muttoo, who are retiring after thirty years at the helm of the organization that promotes the performing, visual and literary arts in the Cayman Islands.
Board Chairman Martyn Bould said, “The Board would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Henry and Marcia for their stewardship of Caymanian heritage and culture over the past three decades. We wish them both well in their retirement and look forward to building on their legacy as we continue to provide a platform for Caymanian
He said CNCF has been reflecting on its role to nurture and develop Caymanian culture and how to achieve maximum collaboration between the entities working in the arts.
Mr. Bould emphasized that “to ensure any change in direction encompasses all stakeholders, we need a CEO who has suitable experience in strategic planning to guide the organization through this next chapter.”
The Cayman National Cultural Foundation office is based at the Harquail Theatre, where it hosts programs such as Cayfest, National Arts and Culture Awards and the perennially popular Rundown show, together with Gimistory presented throughout the Districts. The Foundation is also responsible for visionary artist Miss Lassie’s House and collection and awards grants for development in the arts.
The Harquail Theatre’s location next to the National Gallery provides an opportunity for greater collaboration between the two cultural institutions, with sufficient land available to incorporate the two entities into a master-planned Cultural Village.
“As the arts scene in Cayman continues to grow, we are seeking new ways to expand and align support of the performing and visual arts to the benefit of all. Ms. Urquhart is well-placed to bring her years of leading the strategic direction and programming at the National Gallery and in the wider community to lead CNCF’s strategic development phase. We are delighted she has accepted our invitation to join the Cayman National Cultural Foundation for six months while we begin our search for a permanent CEO,” said Bould.
Ms. Urquhart was appointed Director of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands in 2009, following stints as deputy director, head of curatorial and programming and education and press officer. During her tenure, the National Gallery moved into its current permanent space, which now receives up to 24,000 visitors per year, and the national art collection has grown by 240%.
She is responsible for operational management and strategic development, curatorial management, and overseeing events and education programs at the Gallery and in the districts.
With a masters’ degree in Arts Policy and Management, Ms. Urquhart is the immediate past President of the Museums Association of the Caribbean and has worked extensively with local and regional cultural and heritage organizations. She is a leading authority on Caymanian art and the author of the book Art of the Cayman Islands.
In addition to her role at the National Gallery, Ms. Urquhart launched Cayman Art Week in 2021 in response to the impact of the pandemic on the creative sector and to stimulate investment in Caymanian art.
“It is an honor to have this opportunity to work with the team at the Cayman National Cultural Foundation – Amanda Brown, Dexter Benliss, Virginia Foster, and Barry Campbell,” said Ms. Urquhart.
“There is such a rich tradition of performing arts programs, productions and festivals. I look forward to building on the Foundation’s past achievements and exploring new opportunities to further stimulate the arts and to expand access to heritage in line with the National Cultural and Heritage Policy. A strong and thriving cultural scene has both social and economic benefits for the community, whether that is individual well-being or education, a deeper understanding of our heritage and identity, career opportunities, or healthy cultural tourism sector that supports local artists, musicians and so forth,” she stated.
Ms. Urquhart’s appointment as interim CEO is effective immediately. She will also continue as Director overseeing the team at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands during this period.