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At an open talk at the Lied Center Pavilion on Monday, Derek Kwan outlined his ideas for turning the Lied into a public arts center that would be enmeshed in "the cultural fabric" of the university, city and region.
Kwan was the second of three finalists to visit the Kansas University campus to interview to be executive director of the Lied Center.
Kwan serves as vice president of concerts and touring at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. Before that he was executive director of programming at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Mich., from 2007 to 2012.
After double majoring in music and political science at Duke University, Kwan went on to a brief career as a business analyst before going to work at Lincoln Center and starting his career in the arts. He received his M.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Bolz Center for Arts Administration in 2007.
The ongoing search is to replace Tim Van Leer, head of the Lied since 2001, who announced in April he would retire at the end of the year. In his time as director of the performing arts center Van Leer played host to headliners such as Yo-Yo Ma and the Kronos Quartet. The 14-person committee looking for Van Leer's replacement is headed by Bob Walzel, dean of the KU School of Music.
At Monday's talk Kwan said he would look for ways to "redefine relevance" to help attract students to the center. He would also want to make programming at the Lied as inclusive as possible by seeking the input of board members and others at the university and in the community.
Pointing to KU's long-term strategic plan "Bold Aspirations" and its emphasis on cross-campus collaboration and experiential learning, Kwan said as director he would work to make the Lied "the collaborative partner" in the arts on campus. Some of his ideas to do so included:
- Create a student programming committee to advise the center on booking, negotiations and contracts.
- Partner with KU Memorial Unions in bringing events to campus.
- Team up with the KU School of Music and School of the Arts to invite acts and put on collaborative performances.
- Include programming of appeal to students, such as comedy acts (though Kwan added "nothing raunchy").
- Stream Lied performances through live webcasting.
- Find ways to get arts and business students at KU to collaborate in business and nonprofit work.