Arts & Humanities

Emil Kang to depart Carolina for Mellon Foundation

Emil Kang

Emil Kang, special assistant to the chancellor for the arts and the founder of Carolina Performing Arts, will take a new position Oct. 1 as program director for arts and cultural heritage at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“It is not surprising that the Mellon Foundation would turn to Emil to take on such an important role because of the well-earned reputation he has forged as one of the leading arts administrators in the United States,” wrote Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin in a campus email. “Thanks to Emil’s leadership, Carolina has made immense progress in elevating the vital role the arts play in our campus and local communities.”

Chancellor emeritus James Moeser, professor of music emeritus, will serve as interim executive and artistic director of Carolina Performing Arts and will also lead Arts Everywhere on an interim basis starting Sept. 1. Joining Moeser in ensuring that Arts Everywhere also remains a priority for campus will be Larry Wheeler, former director of the North Carolina Museum of Art, who is serving as a part-time consultant to Arts Everywhere and the Ackland Art Museum. A national search for the position, chaired by Interim Dean Terry Rhodes of the College of Arts & Sciences, will begin in the near future.

Emil Kang and Rameses celebrating at Arts Everywhere. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Kang arrived at Carolina in 2005, founded Carolina Performing Arts as a multidisciplinary program that brought to Chapel Hill such internationally acclaimed artists as Yo-Yo Ma, the National Theatre of Scotland, Philip Glass and the Bolshoi Ballet. Under Kang’s leadership, Carolina Performing Arts has commissioned over 50 new works by renowned artists, 40 of which premiered in Chapel Hill. Such innovative programming, now held inside and outside four venues, has helped make the arts accessible and relevant for students, faculty, staff and community members.

In 2016, Chancellor Carol L. Folt appointed Kang as special assistant to the chancellor for the arts. In that Chancellor’s Cabinet-level role, he and Folt founded Arts Everywhere, a major initiative dedicated to integrating artistic practice, learning and engagement into the daily lives of the community. In 2018, Carolina Performing Arts opened CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, an immersive performing arts venue and studio space, in Carolina Square on Franklin Street to help connect campus and the community through the arts.

In 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Kang to the National Council on the Arts, a first for a North Carolinian. He serves on the boards of the Martha Graham Dance Company and the International Society for the Performing Arts. Kang was president and executive director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, held positions with the Seattle Symphony and the American Composers Orchestra and was an orchestra management fellow with the symphony orchestras of San Francisco, Houston and Grand Rapids. He holds a degree in economics from the University of Rochester and completed the strategic perspectives in nonprofit management program at Harvard Business School as well as programs at the Center for Creative Leadership.