OMA launches search for another new executive director

OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside Museum of Art began its official search for a new executive director on Tuesday, as it heads into a summer packed full of events, exhibits and its Museum Ball fundraiser.

The search committee is working with Management Consultants for the Arts, which it worked with last year to hire its former executive director.

Cheryl Weiner, search committee co-chair and past board president, said the committee wants to narrow the search to local talent this time around.

The museum’s previous Executive Director James Peck parted ways with the museum in May after serving as its leader for five months. Peck formerly worked as executive director and chief curator of the Old Jail Art Center in Albany, Texas.

The search for a new executive director is now underway. Former Executive Director James Peck parted ways with the museum in May. Photo by Promise Yee

The search for a new executive director is now underway. Former Executive Director James Peck parted ways with the museum in May. Photo by Promise Yee

Details of why Peck split with the Oceanside Museum of Art were not shared. Weiner said it was mutually understood that it wasn’t a good fit.

“You hope it’s a great fit, but sometimes it isn’t,” Weiner said.

Peck said his plans moving forward are to finish his doctoral dissertation, and look for new opportunities.

A museum press release by board President Robert Pendleton in early May, announced the executive director would be leaving and cited the need for “a leader with a clear vision, passion, and skills to build on the museum’s many successes.”

In earlier interviews with The Coast News Peck shared his plans to make changes including reducing the number of exhibits and raising the quality of artwork shown. He said some annual shows such as the tattoo art show and national quilt show would not continue.

The museum has traditionally embraced both fine art and up and coming local artists. Artist Alliance members support the museum as dual members and provide opportunities for local artists that includes artwork critiques, and juried exhibits at the museum and elsewhere. The museum also offers education programs and family art days.

Peck was involved with these efforts as he worked to refine exhibits.

Fundraising is also a big part of job.

The museum’s annual budget is about $900,000, which is a drop from the previous year’s $1.2 million budget. It employs five full-time staff, and nine part-time staff and consultants.

Peck previously said his goal was to establish a healthy reserve fund.

The museum has an interest earning endowment, but does not have a reserve fund to withdraw money from at will.

Museum staff has loosely described museum funding as budgeting “month to month.”

Building a larger audience for the young museum, and engaging the community are also ongoing goals.

Weiner said the committee is looking for a strong leader and fundraiser with credibility in the North County area.

“The museum has been around for 20 years, and has a lot of potential to be even more, with the right leadership it could absolutely achieve that potential,” Weiner said.

Weiner said candidates have already expressed interest in the position, prior to the search committee’s first meeting this week.

Peter Gordon, who has worked as a leader for North County nonprofits and has a strong relationship with the museum, will serve as interim executive director during the search.

The museum opened in 1997 and has had four executive directors, three of whom served in the past six years.

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