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News Release

For immediate use

Nov. 12, 2004 -- No. 551

Kang named first executive arts director

Photo note: To download a photo of Kang, see end of release.

By SUSAN PHILLIPS
UNC News Services

CHAPEL HILL -- Emil J. Kang, former president and executive director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, has been tapped to become the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillís first executive director for the arts. His appointment begins Jan. 1, 2005.

Kang will arrive as plans for substantial renovation and expansion to three of the campusís performing arts venues have begun as part of the development of a new Arts Common. When fully funded, the Arts Common aims to elevate the quality and reach of the arts on campus to the local community and across North Carolina.

While reporting to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Kang will manage three performing arts venues: Memorial Hall, the historic Playmakers Theater and Gerrard Hall. He also will guide the university in planning and articulating a comprehensive performing arts program and serve as an advocate for the performing arts on and off campus. Chancellor James Moeser initiated the universityís plans to create this new leadership position.

Kang said he was attracted to Carolina because of its status as "a great university," and also because of the support and enthusiasm for the position that he felt coming from the university community.

"The fact that Chancellor Moeser has supported the creation of this position was very important," he said. "This enthusiasm, coupled with capital improvements and the potential to develop a first-class performing arts program" were the deciding factors in his decision to join Carolina.

Kang led the Detroit Symphony Orchestra through the largest capital project in its history, a $125 million fund-raising campaign to restore and expand Orchestra Hall, including recruitment of Itzhak Perlman ó the reigning virtuoso of the violin ó as principal guest conductor.

Of nearly 200 applicants for the position, Kang was selected from among four finalists who came to campus to participate in open workshops with faculty, staff and students.

University officials cited Kangís excellent communication skills and strong track record for effectively building consensus among diverse constituent groups as primary reasons for his selection.

"Emil Kang is a vibrant, innovative arts leader who understands the need to build a strong sense of community across the campus," said Steve Allred, executive associate provost. "He is well-respected in the performing arts world, and I am confident that he will be successful at Carolina."

At the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Kang managed a $30 million operating budget with more than 250 performances a year that drew 400,000 people annually.

At Carolina, he will work closely with the director of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union to ensure that union productions remain an important part of Carolinaís performing arts. He also will work closely with the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the chairs of the music, dramatic art and communication studies departments, as well as with the executive director of PlayMakers Repertory Company.

Ray Dooley, chair of the department of dramatic art who led the search committee that selected Kang said he and his colleagues on that panel cannot wait to begin working with Kang.

"Mr. Kang will bring his experience as president and CEO of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, tremendous interpersonal skills and an enthusiasm for creating excellence and excitement for the arts at Carolina."

Dooley said Kangís first challenge will be to conduct an appraisal of the existing arts programs and to develop a strategic planning process for the future. He will also begin planning for events celebrating the reopening of Memorial Hall.

Kang was vice president of the Detroit orchestra from 1999 to 2000, when he was promoted to president and executive director. Previously, he was orchestra manager for the Seattle Symphony from 1996 to 1999 and was an orchestra management fellow for the American Symphony Orchestra League in Washington, D.C..

A native New Yorker from Jamaica, Queens, Kang has a bachelorís degree in economics from the University of Rochester, with a minor in art history. He has a certificate of management studies in accounting and finance from the Simon Graduate School of Business, also at the University of Rochester. He also attended Harvard Business Schoolís "Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management" course.

Besides knowing the ins and outs of performance arts from the marketing and management side, Kang also has more than a passing interest in music from the other side of the stage. He is a violinist who studied from an early age and took non-credit lessons at the Eastman School of Music while a student at the University of Rochester.

Kang said he is "energized by the great enthusiasm" that exists for the arts on campus, and he looks forward to developing "new and productive relationships throughout the community."

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Photo URL: http://www.unc.edu/news/pics/staff/kang_emil.jpg

Contact: Mike McFarland, (919) 962-8593