The Wexner Center for the Arts announced last week that Lane Czaplinski will take over as Director of Performing Arts at the end of June. The current director, Charles Helm, will be retiring after 26 years in the position.
The responsibilities of the job include selecting all of the performing arts programs presented at the Wex, marketing and budgeting for those events and working to get students involved, Helm said.
Before accepting the position at the Wex, Czaplinski worked as artistic director of On the Boards, a contemporary arts center in Seattle, for 14 years. Czaplinski commissioned and produced over 80 performance works along with starting a program called OntheBoards.tv, which produced HD-quality performance films to be screened nationally and internationally, Czaplinski said.
“There are so many things I’m proud of, but I think everything has to do with creating greater access. There are 100 universities nationwide that teach our performance films in their classrooms and we’ve introduced Seattle, and sometimes the U.S., to many exciting artists for the first time,” Czaplinski said in an email.
When he heard about the job opening at the Wex, however, Czaplinski said he didn’t hesitate to go after it.
“My predecessor, Chuck Helm, has been a trusted colleague and friend for most of my career, and the Wex has almost mythical standing in our field as a leading center for art and ideas, so I knew I had to pursue the opportunity when it was announced,” he said.
Currently, Czaplinski said he is not planning any major changes in the programming at the Wex. Although, in years to come he hopes to continue to push the center to new places and keep evolving.
“The cool thing about a place like the Wex is it has to be flexible and adaptive to keep up with artists as they innovate and try new things,” he said. “I feel like anything can happen here and I’m excited to be a part of the team.”
As this transition gets closer, outgoing Director Helm expressed pride in the legacy he will be leaving at the Center. Helm said when the Wex opened in 1989 it was the only multidisciplinary art center dedicated wholly to contemporary art, which helped to put Ohio State on the map nationally and internationally in a significant way.
“Before I came, most artists didn’t even know about Columbus and now we have artists all over the world accepting invitations to come to this city,” he said.
While he said he will miss the bonds he has made with artists, audience members and peers in the field, Helm said he is happy that a friend of many years will be taking his place. In the beginning months, Helm said he thinks it will be a bit of an adjustment for Czaplinski to work in the context of a big school like Ohio State, but he doesn’t doubt Czaplinski will exceed expectations.
“I know he will keep on with the great work he’s been doing in Seattle,” he said. “I only hope he will continue my efforts to involve artists in the classroom, so they can have the opportunity to truly have a creative impact on students,” he added.