Erie Arts & Culture plans to begin a search for the arts agency’s next executive director

Patrick Fisher, executive director of Erie Arts & Culture, on TalkErie, April 1, 2022. Photo by Shani Beals,

Patrick Fisher, current CEO, announced the transition and schedule at the November board meeting

Erie Arts & Culture is a regional arts agency serving six counties in northwestern Pennsylvania, including Erie, Warren, Crawford, Mercer, Venango and Lawrence. The organization was founded in 1960 as the Arts Council of Erie and was the first arts agency in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Patrick Fisher, the current executive director of Erie Arts & Culture, was hired in 2018. Under his leadership, the agency embarked on an ambitious strategic plan beginning in 2019.

Fischer’s tenure in office never exceeded five years. Knowing that in March 2022, he completed a comprehensive succession and transition plan that the Board adopted in May. The plan includes a 16-week transition schedule that will begin on January 2, 2023. Fisher’s last day as CEO will be April 28, 2023.

The Erie Arts & Culture Board of Trustees is in the process of establishing two formal bodies to assist in Fisher’s succession, including a Transition Committee and a Search Committee. Brian Thiem, who has been a trustee of the Erie Arts and Culture Council since 2019, will serve as Chair of the Transition Committee. Tim and Fisher will work together over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition.

The role of the Transition Committee includes assessing organizational readiness, creating the right candidate profile, overseeing the overall search process, participating in all personal interviews and making recommendations to the Board regarding the final candidates. The Search Committee’s role includes ensuring that job postings are widely and appropriately distributed, participating in the initial selection and review of resumes, identifying qualified candidates for interviews, selecting standardized interview questions, and ensuring that the desired search schedule is maintained . With Fisher’s departure from Erie Arts & Culture planned and on good terms, he has agreed to assist in the search and onboarding of the next executive director to the extent deemed appropriate by the board of trustees.

Regarding his succession, Fisher states, “When I was hired at Erie Arts & Culture as Executive Director, the Board and I jointly saw an opportunity to make a strategic shift to enhance our relevance and impact in the community. We’ve put in the work to position ourselves to play a significant role in Erie’s revival. This required us to examine our processes, policies and programs – all with an eye toward optimally serving the community. When I interviewed for the Search Committee in 2018, I stated that I envisioned a five-year term in the role. It is time for me to step aside and allow someone else to make strategic contributions to shaping EAC into the best and most effective version of the organization. I am very proud of what EAC has achieved under my leadership. While I have served as a Destroyer, I believe the next leader can be a Consensus Builder. Caring deeply about EAC, its mission and the community it serves, I want to position the organization for a healthy succession that will allow the staff and board to continue their important work without losing the goodwill and trust of the community.”

Erie Arts & Culture is governed by a 15-member Board of Trustees, chaired by Towna Hunter. Regarding what Erie Arts & Culture has accomplished under Fisher’s leadership, Towne states, “Over the past four years, Patrick has served as a strong representative and advocate for Erie Arts & Culture. He modernized the organization’s vision by endorsing a clear strategic plan that focuses on delivering a strong voice for diversity, equity and inclusion. He has created notable members of the community and brought visibility to the agency at the local, regional and national levels.” Additionally, Hunter shared the following regarding Fisher’s upcoming departure from Erie Arts & Culture and the agency’s future: “Patrick has developed a thoughtful and comprehensive succession plan. He will continue to work with the Board and its talented and passionate team to ensure a smooth transition. The Council is grateful for the impact he has had on our community and we will miss the passionate energy he brings to promoting and supporting the arts. With his departure, Erie Arts & Culture wishes him a bright and successful future.”

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