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The Arts Initiative Announces New Managing Director

Wednesday, July 28
Man in blue jacket in front of large plant.

The Arts Initiative at the University of Michigan welcomes Christopher Audain as its new Managing Director. Audain comes to the Arts Initiative with a background in grantmaking, music, and the performing arts with a focus on increasing access and building organizational capacity so that more people can benefit from the transformational power of art.

“We find ourselves in a very challenging moment that requires a great deal of collaboration and good will to chart a new path forward,” said Audain in a statement. “The arts are unique in their ability to unveil our humanity and make life meaningful while also being a catalyst for developing new ideas and disrupting the status quo. I am thrilled to join the vibrant U-M community and forge new partnerships, discover solutions to problems, and seek out ways for everyone to enjoy what the arts have to offer in earnest.”

Audain is the first to hold the Managing Director position since the launch of the Arts Initiative in October 2019, joining a Working Group drawn from leadership across the University led by Co-Chairs Christina Olsen and Jonathan Massey, and Associate Director Alison Rivett.

Audain arrives from Chicago where he was a Program Officer for six years at Alphawood Foundation, a private grant-making organization that supports the arts and arts education, LGBTQ and civil rights, advocacy, and architecture and historic preservation. He worked with over 60 non-profit organizations’ annually helping distribute $3 million in grants each year, while also developing arts advocacy strategies, and managing community events.

Audain brings his enthusiasm for facilitating collaboration and building relationships to this role and holds a B.A. in political science from Kenyon College and an M.A. in Arts Administration from Goucher College. He previously worked at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. He also served as a board chair at Congo Square Theatre Company and taught public administration at Roosevelt University.

He starts the Managing Director position August, 2021, at a moment when the Arts Initiative looks forward to planning for growth and financial sustainability, while launching several major projects and partnerships. “We look forward not only to the added capacity Chris brings at this time of increased activity,” said Christina Olsen, Director of UMMA and Co-Chair of the Arts Initiative, “but also to his stated commitment to the values that come from working collaboratively and advancing the arts for the benefit of all people, at the university and beyond – a crucial goal of the Arts Initiative as it grows and develops.”