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Culture notes: Woodruff’s Bankoff, Breman’s Leavey retiring

ARTS
Woodruff chief retiring
Joseph Bankoff, president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center, revealed his plans to retire on May 31 in a recent e-mail to staff. Bankoff, 66, has led the Southeast’s largest arts center since 2006 and is credited with developing a strategic plan and a 25-year master plan, approved in 2009, that will guide the Woodruff’s growth.

Bankoff was at the helm when plans were scuttled earlier in 2009 for architect Santiago Calatrava’s fanciful $300 million design for an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert hall at 14th and Peachtree streets. The master plan now calls for the ASO facility to be tucked into the front of the Woodruff campus one block north on Peachtree. However, there is no time-frame for relaunching fund-raising, which will wait for the economy and the orchestra’s finances to improve.

A long-time Atlanta attorney before he became an arts administrator, Bankoff also has pushed the four Woodruff divisions — the High Museum of Art, Alliance Theatre and Young Audiences, along with the ASO — to operate more cohesively. He’s also positioned the Woodruff as a center of arts education and generally increased the activity on the campus to make it more of an essential metro destination, day and night.

The Woodruff board is launching a national search for Bankoff’s successor. HOWARD POUSNER

MUSEUMS
Breman leader retiring
Jane Leavey, regarded as the voice of Atlanta’s Jewish history, will retire from her post as executive director of Midtown’s Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum on Dec. 31. Leavey has been involved in sharing and publicizing Atlanta’s Jewish history for 28 years, including stints at what is now the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and as a curator for the Schatten Gallery at Emory University. The museum board will announce Leavey’s successor soon. MELISSA RUGGIERI

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