FROM NEW URBAN ARTS BOARD CHAIR SUSAN SMULYAN AND INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TAMARA KAPLAN:
New Urban Arts has a new Executive Director, Elia Gurna! As an artist, Elia has worked in youth programs for more than a decade in both the United States and Europe. She holds a BA in German and Visual Arts from Columbia University and an MFA from Queens College, CUNY. Elia first visited New Urban Arts over a year ago at the urging of her husband, Eric Gurna. Eric met NUA as part of a team studying best practices for the federal 21st Century Community Learning grant program and felt that our program matched Elia’s commitment to youth empowerment through the arts.
In an exciting arrangement, New Urban Arts will also collaborate with Eric Gurna. Eric is founder and CEO of Development Without Limits, an organization that works with youth programs around the country. Eric will continue at DWL and will consult with New Urban Arts as Director of National Engagement.
Elia and Eric made an amazing impression when they came to Providence. In the studio, Elia got everyone moving with activities from the Brazilian activist Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed; her commitment to student-centered and political spaces moved us; and the artist mentors appreciated her continuing dedication to her own creative practice. The students loved Eric’s jokes and the Board loved his depth of experience.
The Gurnas will move to Providence, with their two young children, and start work on July 1. Details will follow about how we will welcome Elia and Eric and when you’ll have a chance to meet them. The search committee, chaired by Myrth York, did a phenomenal job and we want to thank Heather Kilmartin, Emmy Bright, Simon Moore, Brett Smiley, and C.J. Jimenez. The Board also values the work done by the staff at New Urban Arts in making sure that the organization flourished through the transition. Finally, thanks to the whole community for your help during this time.
This is an exciting moment for New Urban Arts and we are thrilled to share it with you. Please check out Elia’s artwork.