Joseph Benesh named to lead Arizona Citizens for the Arts

Joseph Benesh, who has been engaged with a variety of arts and cultural institutions for nearly 20 years including as director of Phoenix Center for the Arts since 2011, has been named executive director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, the nonprofit statewide arts advocacy organization.

Mr. Benesh will replace Catherine “Rusty” Foley, who announced her retirement, effective at the end of this month, in February. Mr. Benesh will begin his tenure with Arizona Citizens for the Arts on July 1.

Joseph Benesh

“We are thrilled that Joseph has agreed to build upon the foundation that Rusty helped shape and advance since being named executive director in 2011,” said AzCA Board President Michael Seiden. “His commitment to arts and culture in Arizona is undeniable and is clearly defined by the success he has experienced at Phoenix Center for the Arts.”

During his tenure there, Mr. Benesh led the growth of the organization from a budget of $200,000 to nearly $2 million, creating a range of programs including Phoenix Festival of the Arts, Mayor’s Arts Awards, Beta Dance Festival, V-Week, the Arizona Art Mobile and the now three-year-old Thunderbird Arts Center. 

The programs he helped create, always in partnership with artists, benefit more than 38,000 people every year.  He oversaw a 16-member staff and more than 100 teaching artists.

“I leave Arizona Citizens for the Arts in great hands,” Ms. Foley said.  “Joseph brings new energy, new thinking and proven leadership to the position.”

Mr. Benesh is currently a member of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, a Phoenix Arts and Culture commissioner and a member of the Hance Park Conservancy.  He has served as a team leader for the annual AzCA-organized Arts Congress, program day chair for Valley Leadership and as a member of the Steering Committee for the ASU Program in Arts Entrepreneurship (P.A.V.E.).  He also was a member of the Mayor’s Solutions Council on Youth Opportunity and a grant panelist for the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Professionally, he had been Theatre Manager at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center in New York City, Group Sales Manager at The Phoenix Theatre Company and Business Development Manager for TheatreWorks. Additionally, he served as Artistic Director at Stagebrush Theatre and taught acting classes as an adjunct professor at Estrella Mountain Community College, creating a showcase of student performances each semester.

Mr. Benesh holds a Master of the Arts from the New York University Steinhardt School and a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University.

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