The Hillsborough Arts Council’s (HAC) newest creative duo continues to inspire the local art scene. Gift Shop and Gallery Manager Mollie Thomas accepted her new role as Executive Director in early August, while Ivana Beveridge was officially welcomed as Marketing Director and Program Coordinator. The two have worked alongside HAC’s board members and volunteers to navigate the pandemic and are now ready to focus on the continued growth of the programs, partnerships, and community outreach.
Both Thomas and Beveridge bring an artistic flair to the HAC, Thomas a painter and outdoor enthusiast, and Beveridge having connections with local musicians and a keen eye for creative detail. Joining the team in early 2021, Thomas has spent the past several months focused on the physical presence of the HAC and connecting with its’ more than 55 consignment artists, 40-plus volunteers, and more than 25 area art gallery partners.
Beveridge also joined the HAC staff in a contracted position in early 2021. Drawing from her marketing expertise, Beveridge has been the person behind social media outreach, marketing, and web design. “It was apparent that Iva was the perfect fit [for HAC],” said Thomas. “With me being in the gallery and gift shop manager role, we immediately started working together.”
Previously run by a single executive director and bookkeeper, the board of HAC sought to invest in staffing during a volatile employment climate and unprecedented times. Thomas and Beveridge applaud the board members for addressing the need for additional staff as a means to grow the organization and allow the overtaxed volunteers more support.
“[During the pandemic] every nonprofit learned a lot of lessons,” emphasized Thomas. “It opened up blind spots where there were currently no resources being allocated. When the world shuts down, but you still have to keep things moving, it makes it more clear what you’re reliant on.”
Beveridge echoed the sentiments stating, “I think that the board recognized the need for decentralization [of responsibilities] and a solid support person whose job is to manage programs, take care of the internal organizational structure, and be the backbone supporting the volunteer structure. There is only so much bandwidth that volunteers have in their everyday life to be able to devote, and I think what came up through the pandemic was overwhelming for everyone.”
While Thomas and Beveridge settle into their new positions, the HAC continues to search for a new Gift Shop and Gallery Manager.
Staffing isn’t the only transformation the HAC looks to make. Thomas and Beveridge are ambitious when it comes to establishing their footprint in and outside of Hillsborough.
“Change continues to be on the horizon, and I am not afraid of growth,” said Thomas. “It demonstrates, too, that our community is growing. I immediately recognize that Hillsborough is a beautiful, charming, small town with a ton of history, but it’s also part of the Triangle, and the Triangle is booming. The fact that it doesn’t look exactly the same as it did 10 years ago, that’s a good thing.” Thomas continued, “It’s not about reinventing. It’s looking at where we want to be, what void as a nonprofit we need to fill, and finding a way [to do that] that is methodical and thoughtful.”
As the HAC moves forward, community collaboration and inclusive art experiences continue to be a priority. “There is an inherent natural ability for the arts to connect people. It reduces barriers if done properly,” explained Thomas. Evolving programs such as Last Fridays Art Walk to navigate current COVID conditions is one leading example of Thomas and Beveridge’s tenacity to venture forward. “The purpose of the HAC is to create a bridge between the community and the arts,” said Beveridge. “We want to make arts more accessible, and we want to give platforms to more and more artists.”