Arrowhead Regional Arts Council executive director announces departure

Drew Digby has been the executive director of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council for more than four years. He is leaving the position for a job at the University of California Los Angeles Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Drew Digby
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DULUTH — The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council announced Monday the departure of Executive Director Drew Digby.

Digby, who has served in the role for more than four years, will begin working as a research development associate at the University of California Los Angeles Luskin School of Public Affairs at the end of the month.

ARAC has not yet selected an interim executive director, but stated in a news release that the search for a new executive director will begin soon. Digby's last day at ARAC is Jan. 21.

In his time with ARAC, Digby and the council improved accessibility for artists; implemented policies that support equity and met the needs of Black, Indigenous and people of color; and worked to make the grant-receiving process easier for artists and organizations. He helped shift money toward emergency grants in the first 10 days of the first COVID-19 lockdown and advocated for artist support across the state through the pandemic.

Digby, a native of Southern California, also created and implemented new programs, including the Grassroots Assistance Program, Arrowhead Arts Leadership Fellowship for Artists of Color; Arts and Cultural Heritage grant program; a new Arts Ecosystem Grant program; and Artists Access Program for artists new to the granting process.


Notable community initiatives include the Cool and Creative Get Together on the Iron Range and ARAC’s co-sponsorship of the move of the Rural Arts and Culture Summit to Grand Rapids from Morris, Minnesota, in 2019. Digby’s leadership resulted in new sources of funding for ARAC including from the Bush Foundation and Blandin Foundation and nationally from the National Endowment of the Arts.

As president of the Forum of Regional Art Councils of Minnesota, Digby helped advocate for changes that resulted in artists of color and artists in the Northland receiving more funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board. In the past year, state funding to artists in the Arrowhead region increased by 39% to nearly $1.5 million, according to the news release from ARAC.

Digby was invited to speak about his work in the Arrowhead region at the national Grantmakers in the Arts Conference and he served as a board member on an equity task force for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts.

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