Ben Heywood, who for nearly 13 years has led the Soap Factory, is leaving the innovative visual and performing arts venue in Minneapolis.

Heywood has been poached by Vulcan, the private company of art collector and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Educated at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art, Heywood is a former deputy director of the Henry Moore Sculpture Trust in Leeds, England. He was hired in 2002 to lead the then-named No Name Exhibitions into its transition to the Soap Factory, which is housed in a historic former manufacturing building in Minneapolis.

His role at Vulcan has not yet been announced.

“We are sad to see him leave, but excited that he's received this opportunity, and very proud to know that the Soap Factory has fostered this kind of leadership in the arts,” said board chair Megan Leafblad. “His legacy includes being a big advocate for artists, and allowing them to try big experimental things in our building that can’t happen at a lot of other places in town.”

A search committee is being formed to seek his replacement. Heywood’s last day is June 30.

The Soap Factory will hold a farewell reception for Heywood on Thursday, 4-6 pm (The Soap Factory, 514 2nd Street SE, Mpls).

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