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Va. Film Festival director named University vice provost for the arts

Jody Kielbasa, the Virginia Film Festival director, will serve as the University’s new vice provost for the arts. John Simon, executive vice president and provost, announced the appointment nearly four months after former Vice Provost Elizabeth Turner said she planned to step down from her post in the new year.

As vice provost, Kielbasa will serve as Simon’s chief advisor and advocate for University arts programs. His responsibilities will include planning with the Arts Advisory Committee, conducting arts fundraising initiatives, and initiating and coordinating cross-disciplinary arts related collaborations at the University, according to a University press release. He will also oversee the Fralin Museum of Art and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection.

“Mr. Kielbasa brings to the job an extraordinary breadth of experience and success in a variety of arts endeavors,” Maurie McInnis, vice provost for academic affairs, said in an email.

Kielbasa has served as the Director of the Virginia Film Festival since 2009 and will continue to hold the position during his time as vice provost, and he said he still plans to remain committed and work very closely with his colleagues at the Festival.

“It keeps me directly involved in the artistic process and that’s a very good thing,” Kielbasa said.

Kielbasa has a strong background in the arts, including his role of founding director of the Sarasota Film Festival, one of the most acclaimed independent film festivals in the nation. He also spent time as a professional actor in Los Angeles.

“I wholeheartedly believe in the power of the arts to bring a community together,” Kielbasa said.

Kielbasa plans to bolster the arts at the University through promoting student attendance at performances and other arts events on grounds. He also said he hopes to focus on building bridges between the community of Charlottesville and the University during his tenure.

After Turner decided to resign from her post, a five-person committee chaired by McInnis conducted the search for her successor.

“The committee was particularly interested in finding a candidate who could coordinate collaborative cross-disciplinary initiatives in the arts, participate in fundraising initiatives and generate enthusiasm for the arts across the Grounds,” McInnis said.

The expanded arts profile of the University under the leadership of Turner included construction of Ruffin Hall and a new drama building set to open in April

“I hope in time to lay the foundation for continuing to build the arts grounds,” Kielbasa said.