A! Magazine for the Arts

Michael McNulty

Michael McNulty

Pro-Art announces new executive director

January 26, 2021

The Pro-Art Association announces the appointment of Michael McNulty to the position of executive director beginning Jan. 1. McNulty, current chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, will continue to teach and direct in a limited role within the U.Va. Wise theater department while becoming only the fourth leader in the nonprofit’s 44-year history. “Michael brings a deep commitment to the arts and our community which the Board feels will help move Pro-Art forward during this time of great change in our world,” Board of Trustees President Mike Abbott said.

Current Executive Director Jan Zentmeyer began her tenure in 2017 and told Abbott in early fall that she planned to retire by the end of 2020. “The timing is right for me to pass the torch,” Zentmeyer said. “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished in the past few years and will miss the staff, trustees, artists and all the supporters of Pro-Art that I’ve gotten to know through the privilege of this job. Taking live performing arts programs to the schools in our region has been a particular joy for me, and I know Michael will continue to expand those programs.”

The Pro-Art Board of Trustees began the hiring process several months ago and made the selection for their new executive director based on McNulty’s wealth of knowledge and experience in the performing arts as well as his 16 years of service for the organization, during which he has served as both President and Vice-President of the Board of Trustees.

“Michael is an extremely engaging, articulate and creative person who has served on the Pro-Art Board of Trustees since 2004,” Zentmeyer continued. “He brings a unique understanding to the business and production sides of Pro-Art’s work, as well as many exciting ideas for ways to expand opportunities to participate in the arts in our hometowns.”

McNulty is deeply committed to Pro-Art’s mission to promote the arts and expand accessibility to cultural experiences for the residents and students of communities across Wise, Lee, and Dickenson Counties and the City of Norton. McNulty noted, “We may not always realize it, but the arts are extraordinarily influential. They are deeply embedded in every aspect of our daily lives. You don’t need a fancy education or a lot of money to appreciate and participate in the transformational opportunities art provides to us all—to enrich our experience and understanding of life and the world around us.” McNulty envisions new opportunities for adults and youth in our region to get involved with the arts across a variety of new projects. “We have to foster a practical understanding of the value of the arts in the next generation of Pro-Art’s audiences, supporters and artists,” McNulty said.

He earned his BA in acting from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, his MFA in directing from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania, and held a number of teaching, directing and administrative positions before coming to U.Va. Wise in 2002 to become a professor of Theater Arts and Head the Division of Theater.