“I consider myself an artist. I do photography and knit and draw pictures and all of that, but really working in support of artists has been my whole career,” Karl Reichert said. Late in 2014, Reichert began a new chapter in his career as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Textile Center.
Reichert joined the Minnesota Orchestra as a publicist three years out of college and within two years was Director of Public Affairs. He worked there for more than 10 years, then spent seven years as a consultant with clients like the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota and Cantus. Then “in the fall of 2006 I was told about this wonderful old movie house in north Minneapolis that was in need of programming and revitalization.” When the position was posted in the new year, he became the Director of the Capri Theater, completing a successful capital campaign and creating year-round music, theater and spoken-word programming. Along with artistic directors Dennis Spears and Kevin D. West, Reichert said, “We really defined as part of our brand that the Capri belongs to everyone. Our commitment to youth engagement began very early. Audiences embraced that.”
In his work at the Capri, Reichert said, “I discovered that I had some wonderful skills as a youth worker and in community engagement. I also view myself as an arts leader.” Those skills attracted the attention of the Minnesota Textile Center. “It wasn’t a job that I was seeking,” he said. “It was brought to my attention and I was encouraged to apply.”
Reichert called move into the new role “one of those really challenging decisions — I really loved my work with the Capri and found it very rewarding. It really was not for lack of interest or support — it was more that there was an opportunity.” He welcomed the move from performing arts to the visual arts. “I’m a fan of the visual arts,” he said. “My husband, Reynaldo, is a visual artist.” In addition, “the opportunity to step into executive director role — growing my own career — was very appealing.”
What is your role as Executive Director at the Textile Center?
My focus is, first, to make sure we can align expenses with income (every nonprofit faces this). Second, to really take a look at the programming — it’s a member organization that offers classes, a youth program, a number of guilds. We want to build on a 20-year tradition.
What’s the most fun?
I’ve been going to guild meetings, introducing myself, getting to know what all the guilds do. You have wearable art, knitters, machine knitters, quilters, weavers, basket weavers. A lot of the meetings are show and tell — I am absolutely blown away by the creativity that is presented.
What’s the biggest challenge?
When you assume this responsibility, there are so many processes and procedures you have to become acquainted with. You want to make sure you’re attending to these issues in appropriate and right ways. That’s part of the learning curve. Through great mentors like Anne Long, I have developed the sense to know when to ask the questions and never to make assumptions. There are so many people who are willing to offer support. That’s the good thing about having a long career in one community — you get to know a lot of people. I’ve learned to build bridges. □