We had the good fortune of connecting with Wesley Gentle and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Wesley, what role has risk played in your life or career?

Making art can feel risky: you make yourself vulnerable and face inevitable rejection. Pursuing a career in the arts can be risky: you invest considerable money and time doing something that may only reach a small audience. Arts administration is fraught with risk as organizations pursue bold works with limited resources. An advocate for the arts struggles to change the hearts and minds of those who don’t value the countless ways an artist enriches our lives.

In my limited experience, all of those endeavors are worth the risk.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

As I’m writing this, I am a few weeks into my role as interim managing director and president of Arts Fort Worth (formerly the Arts Council of Fort Worth). This appointment follows over four years fundraising for our nonprofit, and a little over three years doing the same for performing arts organizations. Prior to that, I worked briefly as a bass-baritone singing-actor and held down a dozen or so odd jobs.

I need to acknowledge that much of my journey through 33 years of life has been shaped by tremendous privilege. I have a supportive family, received a great public education, and had the financial resources to earn a master’s degree in music performance. My race, gender, sexual orientation, faith, health, network of support have opened so many doors for me, likely in ways I will never fully realize.

Now I have the privilege of stewarding our nonprofit’s resources and connections, working to do so equitably to ensure people living in Fort Worth can express themselves through art and encounter their own stories in art. Our team gets to bring people together to find common ground and understanding through art. And I am privileged to volunteer for and collaborate with community organizations, like our Rotary Club of Fort Worth, that build an environment where we can celebrate our shared humanity through art.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

If you only have one day in Fort Worth, you have to spend at least an hour or two in the historic Cultural District. The Fort Worth Community Arts Center is a great way to discover Fort Worth’s art scene in our seven galleries and three theaters. The District is also filled with impressive public art from Fort Worth Public Art (managed by Arts Fort Worth) and world-famous museums like the Kimbell, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and the Modern. You will find great theater with Casa Manana, sports and major events at Will Rogers and Dickies Arena, and the uniquely education experiences of National Cowgirl Museum and Museum of Science and History. Oh, and brilliant galleries like Fort Works Art. And more restaurants than I have space to list (but do go to Salsa Limon and Taco Heads).

Fort Worth has so many distinct and amazing neighborhoods, urban villages and districts. One part of Fort Worth that often gets overlooked is the eastside. It’s a bit of a generalization to say “one part”, because we have so many awesome neighborhoods and communities east of downtown, ranging from Oakhurst to Poly to Meadowbrook to Handley. But, at the very least, people need to get out and experience Kinfolk House, established by artists Letitia and Sedrick Huckaby and managed by artist Jessica Fuentes. The space they’ve made for visual art and community engagement is as dynamic as they are, and shouldn’t be missed. Plus, while you’re in the area, you can pick up some great coffee at Black Coffee and go for a long hike in Tandy Hills.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I hope it doesn’t come across as self-serving if I shoutout the staff and volunteers that make up Arts Fort Worth (the organization I work for). They inspire me with their own artistry and passion for others’ work, and they have helped me grow in my career and as a person. Also, they do a darn good job caring for the historic Fort Worth Community Arts Center, where I’ve rehearsed some of my favorite shows and discovered some of my favorite artists (and it’s where I met my wife)!

Website: www.artsfortworth.org

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artsfortworth/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wesleygentle/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArtsFortWorth/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvYKPEZoqX0sEuySftNyTFQ

Image Credits
Paperlyte (tower with cell phone image). StyleFW (violinist and three people sitting)

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.