Jeff Melanson, Rob Ford’s special adviser on arts and culture, to leave Toronto for Banff

Jeff Melanson, Rob Ford’s special adviser on arts and culture, to leave Toronto for Banff

Jeff Melanson, we hardly knew ye. After six months on the job, Rob Ford’s special adviser on arts and culture, who is also the executive director and CEO of the Canada’s National Ballet School, will leave his positions in Toronto to become the president and CEO of the Banff Centre in Alberta, the Globe and Mail reports.

Last November, the cultural it boy was hand-picked by the mayor to be the city’s arts adviser. In his six months on the job, he has encouraged the arts community to embrace the private sector rather than rely unilaterally on the public purse. “There are clear limitations to what the city can do,” he told the Globe in November. “I think, disproportionately speaking, private-sector earned revenues are the key drivers of our future growth.”

Melanson has also worked closely with a cultural advisory council on an action plan for Toronto, to be presented to city council next week. The committee—consisting of Capital Canada CEO Robert J. Foster, CIBC vice-chair and former Tory MP Jim Prentice and National Ballet of Canada artistic director Karen Kain—offers more than 30 recommendations to bolster the city’s arts presence on the world stage, including raising municipal cultural spending to $25 per capita over the next three years (up seven per cent from the current $18).

Melanson comes by his arts guru role honestly: he studied opera, Russian art song and choral conducting at the University of Manitoba and undertook vocal training at Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He has held positions at Opera Ontario and the Royal Conservatory of Music, and he took the reins of the NBS in 2006. In 2009, he was named to Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, the first arts executive to receive that honour. Melanson, who has committed to a five-year term at the Banff Centre, will enter his new role in January.

Rob Ford’s savvy arts adviser goes west to lead Banff Centre [The Globe and Mail]
Rob Ford’s new arts adviser stresses self-reliance [The Globe and Mail]