Volume 20 Issue 3 | June 1 -7, 2007

Cultural leader leaving for poetry and Africa

Tom Healy, the president of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, is trading in his suit for solitude and stanzas.

Healy announced Friday that he will be leaving his post at the council to pursue his own creative endeavors, including a book of poetry that he has long wanted to publish. Healy’s official last day will be June 30.

Since Healy assumed his post in July 2004, the cultural council has expanded its artist residency programs and reached out to artists in other cities, including New Orleans, that have experienced traumatic events. However, as the council’s programs grew, Healy found himself spending more time at fundraisers and less time working with artists. When the L.M.C.C.’s May 3 benefit went better than expected, he decided it was the “perfect time to leave on a high note.”

Healy, who will also be stepping down from the L.M.C.C. board, plans to travel to Africa this summer to work with women on a local economic development project. After that, he’ll be focusing on his writing.

Healy said Wednesday that he was proud of how the L.M.C.C. brought art and artists back Downtown after 9/11. He hopes that the council will continue to play an active role in the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan, working to cater to the burgeoning residential community and helping to bring in art and performance to construction-ravaged areas.

“On of the great things about Lower Manhattan is it’s not standing still. If you go down there in 10 years, I don’t think you’ll even recognize it,” Healy said. “I think the L.M.C.C. is perfectly situated to be a key player in that growth.”

Long a critic of the troubled cultural plan at the World Trade Center site, Healy said he is excited that the city and state are finally “thinking imaginatively” about how to bring affordable arts options to the W.T.C. area. He said he was particularly happy with the choice of David Emil as the president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. He remembers Emil as an ardent supporter of the arts, dating back to his time as the president of the Battery Park City Authority.

“Having a government official who cares about putting poetry on the waterfront is a real good sign of what’s to come,” Healy said, referring to the verses imbedded in the railings of B.P.C.’s North Cove.

In a short statement released on Friday, the L.M.C.C. praised Healy for his work at the council and wished him well. The council is currently searching for a new president.

— Skye H. McFarlane

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