Joseph Benesh, director of Phoenix Center for the Arts since 2011, has assumed the role of executive director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, the nonprofit statewide arts advocacy organization. He replaced Catherine “Rusty” Foley, who announced her retirement in February. Benesh, and began his new position July 1.
During his tenure at Phoenix Center for the Arts, Benesh led the growth of the organization from a budget of $200,000 to one of almost $2 million, creating a range of programs including Phoenix Festival of the Arts, Mayor’s Arts Awards, Beta Dance Festival, V-Week, the Arizona Art Mobile and the now 3-year-old Thunderbird Arts Center.
The programs he helped create, in partnership with artists, benefit more than 38,000 people each year. He oversaw a 16-member staff and more than 100 teaching artists.
Benesh is currently a member of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, a Phoenix Arts and Culture commissioner and a member of the Hance Park Conservancy. He has served as a team leader for the annual AzCA-organized Arts Congress, program day chair for Valley Leadership and as a member of the steering committee for the ASU Program in Arts Entrepreneurship. He also was a member of the Mayor’s Solutions Council on Youth Opportunity and a grant panelist for the Arizona Commission on the Arts.
Professionally, he had been theater manager at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center in New York City, group sales manager at The Phoenix Theatre Company and business development manager for Theater Works. Additionally, he served as artistic director at Stagebrush Theatre and taught acting classes as an adjunct professor at Estrella Mountain Community College, creating a showcase of student performances each semester.
Benesh holds a Master of the Arts from the New York University Steinhardt School and a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University.