Rich Boyd served as executive director of the Tennessee Arts Commission in a career that spanned 28 years of service (1984-2012), including 15 years as assistant director. Under his leadership, the Commission became a national leader among state arts agencies in terms of arts education, cultural heritage, strategic planning, support for individual artists and innovative services to constituents.
Under Rich’s leadership, the Commission expanded its Arts Education Program, resulting in $2 million in two Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination grants from the U.S. Department of Education for the Value Plus Schools and Arts 360 programs. Tennessee was the only state arts agency to have been awarded consecutive federal funding under this program. During Rich’s career, the Commission also played a pioneering role in bringing public art to the state with the Tennessee Interstate Welcome Center Program that included the installation of 12 large-scale sculptures serving as visual ambassadors for the State of Tennessee.
Under Rich’s tenure, a distinguished Folklife Program to preserve and promote Tennessee’s cultural heritage was developed. He led the Commission’s participation in the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpiece Initiative that identified the Fisk University Jubilee Singers as a state and national treasure. In the words of one colleague, Rich “put the arts in Tennessee on the map.”
Rich led the development of a Commission public awareness campaign about arts and culture, arts education and promoting investment in cultural assets that enrich the lives of Tennessee citizens. As part of that campaign, the Commission partnered with The Renaissance Center in Dickson producing a series for public television stations in Tennessee called Creative License. The series featured Tennessee artists, organizations and the work they create and was honored with a 2010 Regional Emmy Award for original arts programming.
The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies named Rich the recipient of its 2014 Gary Young Award. The award recognized his exemplary leadership, innovative thinking, and extraordinary contribution to public support for the arts at the state, regional and national levels.
Following his retirement from the Commission, Rich took a role as art consultant for the Music City Center, Nashville’s convention center, which opened in May 2013. The Convention Center Authority budgeted $2 million for the creation of a Tennessee-specific art program within the architecturally acclaimed new building, and Rich was charged with bringing the collection to fruition. He was an integral part of selecting, purchasing, and installing the artwork. Over 225 artists submitted applications, and the Convention Center Authority eventually selected 128 unique and beautiful pieces of art. His work with the Music City Center Collection continued through installation and artist reception. The project concluded with the publication of Unconventional, a stunning art book cataloging the collection published in late 2013.
A native of Rutherford County, Boyd received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Belmont University. His interest in classic architecture and work in preservation and restoration of historic properties has been featured in national print and broadcast media including Architectural Digest, Classic American Homes, Southern Living, Southern Accents, and HGTV.