The Greater Jackson Arts Council (GJAC) Board of Directors has named Silbrina Wright as Executive Director of the City of Jackson’s official local arts agency.
Janet Scott, the organization’s leader since 1997, has officially retired and will serve as a consultant for the first quarter of 2021 to assist with the transition. Longtime staffer Jon Salem will step into the newly created role of Managing Director.
Wright, who assumed the executive director position earlier this month, joined GJAC in 2019 as Community Outreach Manager. A seasoned fundraiser and leader across nonprofit, government, and private sectors, she studied business administration at Belhaven University, served as executive director for the Mississippi Conference of Black Mayors, and was recently tapped by Tougaloo College to be a grant consultant for the Bennie G. Thompson Delta Leadership Initiative.
“I’m humbled and excited by this opportunity,” Wright says. “The arts are essential to the revitalization of urban and small communities. We often underestimate how deeply art is woven into our daily lives. It has a magical way of humanizing our perspective. The need for that in these times is as important as ever. I plan to dedicate a lot of energy in these next months to listening intently to how GJAC can better meet that need in our community.”
Wright’s ascension makes her the first African-American executive director in GJAC’s history. The agency, founded in 1981, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
“It’s a new beginning,” Dr. Lori Marshall, president of GJAC’s board of directors says. “Janet Scott has led our organization with such passion and grace. True to form, she’s going out with fireworks. A very exciting national project she orchestrated will be announced shortly. And she had the keen eye to see the potential in Silbrina Wright and bring her into the fold two years ago. The board is exceptionally grateful for Janet’s dedicated service.”
Scott’s tenure has steered GJAC through a number of triumphs—the first Mayor’s Arts Achievement Honors which honored legends Thalia Mara, Margaret Walker Alexander, and Eudora Welty together for the first time, a robust regranting program which year after year has reached deep into the grassroots of Jackson’s most economically challenged areas, the creation of the long-running event fundraiser the Storyteller’s Ball, and the pursuit of public art initiatives that are permanent markers of creativity and beauty throughout the city.
“It was a difficult decision to end this chapter,” Janet Scott says. “I love this organization, and I love this community. But after more than twenty years, it was time to say goodbye and time for a new vision. Silbrina came to us and immediately led with dynamism and a refreshing insight on ways the arts can answer the call to community needs.”