Armory Center’s Executive Director to Retire

Scott Ward
Scott Ward

Armory Center for the Arts Executive Director Scott Ward has announced his retirement from the nationally recognized contemporary arts center, effective June 30.
Nonprofit and donor-supported, Armory Center for the Arts is the Los Angeles region’s leading independent institution for contemporary art exhibitions and community arts education. In his 17 years as executive director, Ward has increased the Armory’s endowment, operating budget, geographic reach, breadth of service, and has deepened the Armory’s longstanding commitment to delivering meaningful art experiences to underserved populations, both in Pasadena and throughout greater Los Angeles. Ward is only the second executive director in the Armory’s 28-year history, succeeding founding director Elisa Callow in 2001.
Ironically, Ward’s first day on the job was “move out” day at the Armory, the start of a yearlong, $2.4 million renovation project, which added 6,800 square feet of administrative and classroom space to the organization’s Old Pasadena facility — a 1930s National Guard Armory initially rehabilitated in 1989. To facilitate the extensive renovations, Ward’s task was to temporarily relocate the entire organization to the former Highland Plastics factory on Fair Oaks Avenue in Northwest Pasadena, a city-owned, 65,000-square-foot industrial space situated on the current site of Robinson Park’s football field. With minimal interruption of programming, “Armory Northwest” quickly transformed into a vibrant cultural hub in the historically underserved neighborhood of Northwest Pasadena.
In addition to exhibitions, performances and art workshops, Ward saw this “temporary” building as a future resource for the community. Through a series of strategic partnerships, Armory Northwest evolved into a vital satellite facility for the next six years, operating in tandem with the newly renovated center. Ward began inviting smaller arts and culture nonprofits to share the massive warehouse space, with the notion that greater impact would be achieved through collective action. Many of these small organizations were recently evicted from low-rent and pro-bono storefronts following the sharp economic downturn in the months following 9/11. Among these smaller organizations were Adam’s Forge, Filmmakers’ Alliance, the Latino Heritage Association, Pasadena Arts Council, and Side Street Projects — all of whom are still thriving cultural resources, thanks largely to Ward’s intervention and vision.
This commitment to community building through collaboration and strategic partnerships is a hallmark of Ward’s tenure. “I have often referred to the Armory as among the top echelon of international models for arts education and arts engagement,” said Craig Watson, past director of the California Arts Council and the Armory’s founding board president. “This well-earned reputation is tied directly to Scott’s vision for a center that celebrates artists and artistry and, at the same time, collaborates broadly around the themes of social justice, inclusion and community building.”

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