ArtsFairfax Names Stuart B. Holt as President & CEO

By East City Art Editorial Team on April 16, 2024
ArtsFairfax Board Chair Scott Cryer and President & CEO Stuart Holt (© PaperKite Photography, LLC)

ArtsFairfax, the local arts agency serving Fairfax County and the Cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, announces Stuart Holt as its new President & CEO.

With a track record of igniting city-wide transformation through arts access and arts education, Mr. Holt recently served as Director of Learning and Engagement of Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York, NY. As head of all educational programming, his expertise includes community and adult programs, K-12 school programs, and digital engagement initiatives that have reached audiences around the world.

“Fairfax County interest in the arts has grown exponentially over the last 10 years due in large part to Linda Sullivan’s leadership. Now, we look to Stuart Holt to increase access to the arts for all residents throughout the region,” says Scott Cryer, ArtsFairfax Board Chair and Principal at HGA, an architecture and engineering design firm. “The ArtsFairfax Board believes that Stuart’s vision and spirit of collaboration will inspire our talented staff and multiple stakeholders to find new ways of working together to strengthen the arts in Fairfax.”

“There is no transformation without a strong foundation, and I am honored to build on what ArtsFairfax has achieved in gaining the trust of its elected officials, civic partners, arts leaders, and County residents,” says Stuart Holt, President & CEO of ArtsFairfax. “I envision ArtsFairfax as a catalyst for area artists to amplify and celebrate their work. Together, we can inspire a greater sense of belonging in this vast and vibrant community through personal connections to local arts and culture.”

For over 20 years, he has dedicated his career to inspiring learners of all ages through the power of the arts. Before joining the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Mr. Holt was Director of Education and Outreach for Nashville Opera and Director of Youth Opera Programs for Sarasota Opera. He also served on the music faculty of Florida State University and James Madison University.

ArtsFairfax, which has served Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, and the City of Falls Church since 1964, is best known as a local grant maker, as well as a resource for professional development for area artists and arts organizations.

In his new leadership role, Mr. Holt will build on the services provided to nonprofit arts organizations with the aim to engage more individual artists, new arts audiences, and partnerships across the private, foundation, and civic sectors.

Throughout his career Mr. Holt has brokered unique community partnerships, including collaborations with Lincoln Center to provide music education for children and young adults on the Autism spectrum and to serve adults affected by dementia; a partnership with the Vanderbilt Observatory to create the outdoor dining and live music “Opera on the Mountain” event, which remains an integral part of Nashville Opera’s perennial community engagement offerings; and a partnership with the Police Athletic League to develop an afterschool choral program in Sarasota, Florida.

As Director of Learning and Engagement at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Mr. Holt dramatically increased the Guild’s reach, growing their K-12 school programs across all five boroughs of New York City and to six counties in New Jersey; launching the Metropolitan Opera Guild Podcast, which garnered over 2.2 million listens across 200 episodes; and creating the Guild’s Continuing Opera Education-Online Learning Platform, which reached adult learners from 41 states and 29 countries.

With education as a cornerstone of his practice, Mr. Holt has successfully navigated complex school systems, bringing arts education programs to 30,000 students in Nashville and 120,000 students in New York.

In service to artists, Mr. Holt spearheaded the re-design and implementation of the Guild’s signature professional development program, the Opera Learning Institute. This five-day, 30-hour program has now been replicated in two states and has received accreditation from the New York State and New York City Department of Education. He has led professional development workshops for teachers and arts administrators at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, The Metropolitan Opera’s “HD Live in Schools” National Educators Conference, the New Jersey Foundation for Educational Administration at Princeton University, and Muse Machine in Dayton, Ohio.

With financial support from the New York State Council on the Arts, Mr. Holt guided the Guild’s participation in the Arts Workforce Fellowship. Designed to support training and career development for emerging arts practitioners from communities that have been historically underrepresented in the arts and cultural sector.

Mr. Holt is an in-demand lecturer and consultant in opera education. He currently presents “Opera Boot Camp,” his long-running lecture series with the Cosmopolitan Club in New York. Additionally, he is engaged as the program consultant for Opera America’s Enriching the Humanities through Opera project and the administrative and program consultant for Culture Lab’s Community Voices Choir, a program created by Mr. Holt during his tenure with the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

In the field of research, Mr. Holt oversaw the Guild’s Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching (COBALT) project, which provided concrete data on the connections and outcomes between opera-based and arts-integrated learning with student achievement.

Mr. Holt has served on grant review panels for Florida State University, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His stage directing credits include productions at Nashville Opera, Tallahassee Little Theatre, James Madison University, and Florida State University. He holds a Bachelor’s in Music Education from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN, and a Master’s in Opera Production from Florida State University.

Source: ArtsFairfax Press Release