Photo by Matt McNabb/Times Sentinel
Zionsville Times Sentinel

J. David Smith is not new to the SullivanMunce Cultural Center, but he does have a new title.

Smith was recently hired as the executive director of the SullivanMunce Cultural Center and plans to expand the center in scope and size.

Smith said his first involvement with the center came in 2000 when it exhibited photographs he took in Starkey Park following a snow storm. At the reception, Smith was given a name tag, and it is something he has kept to this day, he said.

“The name tag said David Smith, artist,” he said. “Cool.”

The center has featured a second exhibit of his work, and Smith joined the board of the cultural center in January 2006.

Smith is replacing Andra Walters, who served as executive director of the cultural center for six years.

“It is very important to recognize what Andra Walters did in her six years,” Smith said. “She brought the center to the position it is in now.”

Lynne Manning, marketing and development coordinator for the cultural center, said Walters left the cultural center to take a position at the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana.

Smith said he is a 26-year resident of Zionsville and his three children all grew up in Zionsville and graduated from Zionsville Community Schools.

“I care about the Village,” he said.

Prior to his involvement with the cultural center, he was active with the Community Foundation of Boone County and served as its founding president, he said.

In 2005, Smith retired as the Indiana University School of Medicine’s associate dean for development and executive director of capital campaigns. Smith said he was the school’s chief fundraiser for 20 years.

That fundraising experience is something Smith said he hopes to bring to the cultural center as it grows.

The cultural center owns two homes the lots behind the museum and the art center. Smith would like to expand the facilities and build on those two lots.

Although a timeline for expansion hasn’t been determined, the need for a larger facility exists, especially at the Munce Art Center, Smith said.

“It is way too small for what we want to do,” he said.

The new cultural center building would significantly increase class, exhibit and genealogy space, he said.

He said he hopes to expand the cultural center’s scope of program offerings along with the building’s footprint.

“Cultural center, it’s a huge umbrella,” he said.

Because of the broad nature of things that could fall under offerings from a cultural center, he said the center should look into programming that might be important to understanding our future and where we are headed, such as looking at world religions.

The center is planning an extensive survey that will probably be sent out to the community in 2007. The survey will help determine what the community wants and the direction the center should take in developing future programing, Smith said.

“We’re very happy and pleased with what we are doing now, but where from there?” he said. “We want to understand what people respond to.”

Zionsville has a large population of retired people, and with baby boomers retiring they will have free time to fill, he said.

The cultural center needs to determine the role it plays in meeting the needs of those individuals, and the survey will assist in doing that, he said.

He said in recent years he has taken a ceramics course at the Munce Art Center, but he also went to other places for storytelling and writing classes.

“That’s the kind of thing we want to do here,” he said.

Manning said providing those types of classes is important because of the learning opportunities the center can provide to the community.

The center is already adding events to its activity list, such as the Village Seen, Smith said. The Village Seen was a juried art competition that brought artists to Zionsville to spend a day painting scenes around the Village. The center sponsored the competition for the first time this past summer.

The cultural center wants to expand its offerings while remaining cognizant of its current mission — maintaining records and exhibits, Smith said.

“Zionsville is a neat town with a rich history,” he said. “People are responding to what we are doing, but we want more people.”

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