TAC Seeks our Next Executive Director: Announcement to our Community

Public Art Champion, Founder and Executive Director Yarrow Thorne to Step Down this Summer. 

After 12 years since founding The Avenue Concept, Yarrow Thorne is ready to take the next step in his own journey of creative exploration as Founder, stepping aside as Executive Director this summer.

TAC’s next ED will build upon our development and success in 2024 and beyond, joining a dynamic staff and Board in leading with a solid foundation and comprehensive strategic plan completed in 2023.

Under Yarrow’s bold and passionate leadership, we developed “avenues” for public art, creating spaces where hundreds of artists, civic and business leaders and advocates could connect and share stories through high-quality public art experiences. With murals, sculptures, legal graffiti walls, and events like Avenue Sandwich, Influx, and TAC Activations, we’ve combined mark-making, music, art, skateboarding, food, photography, video, storytelling, and community initiatives.

We have produced 300+ public artworks and experiences, dramatically changing the look, feel, and engagement with Providence and beyond. From the earliest days, TAC developed infrastructure and prioritized storytelling. Since then, many team and board members, artists, and partners have helped us contribute to a flourishing public art ecosystem. Our new strategic plan results from eighteen months of listening, learning, and imagining. Yarrow Thorne offers, “The first ten years were the proof of concept to show that public art could provide a compelling backdrop for vitality and connection.” Today, we’re building avenues to share ideas and histories, celebrate pride, improve safety and business activity, and provide real, measurable value. We’re leaning into new ways to lead and providing opportunities for the next generation of arts leaders. And we’re deepening relationships with organizations and individuals to give voice to what, who, and how art is made in neighborhoods.

The Board Search Committee has been working with Eos Transition Partners to create a robust profile based on community input to support a national search for the next Executive Director. We look forward to attracting a thoughtful and growth-minded leader who nurtures trust and collaboration across communities to ensure our continued organizational and community success. The board and staff are committed to ensuring a successful transition for the next ED. Deputy Director Jenn Harris offers, “I joined TAC in 2020 to support Yarrow and the team in preparing for this transition: strengthening strategy, processes, and opportunities for leaders within the organization and in our community, and we’re ready. We’re approaching this transition from a place of strategic, financial, and programmatic strength. Our team is committed to supporting a new ED in bringing fresh perspectives and energy to execute our strong strategic plan and imagine the next ten years for public art.”

We look forward to ushering in this exciting new chapter under the direction of a new ED, and we’ll be celebrating Yarrow’s contributions throughout our spring season.

Visit https://theavenueconcept.org/about/jobs/ for the ED Profile and information to apply.

Featured Artwork:

Letters from Founder and Board Chair

Letter from Yarrow Thorne, Founder and Executive Director 

Friends, Partners, and Supporters,

From the inception of The Avenue Concept (TAC), my vision was clear: to step back once the organization reached a place of stability and community support. Today, I feel a mixture of pride and excitement for the future, recognizing that this moment has arrived. It’s time for me to make space for someone new to envision TAC’s next chapter.

This is my formal announcement that I will be transitioning away from the role of Executive Director, but my commitment to TAC’s success and our public art community remains strong. This spring, we will begin a search for a new Executive Director who will expand on our original vision and take TAC to new heights. TAC was born from a necessity to change systems, shifting the narrative around public art from “no, you can’t” to “yes, we should.” By navigating administrative hurdles and leveraging art to initiate policy conversations, we’ve shown that meaningful growth is achievable through creativity, shared vision, and persistence.

In the last decade, we’ve watched the appetite for public art accelerate from acceptance to celebrating our communities’ visual identities. This idea began with early support from The Rauschenberg Foundation and champions like Dr. Charles Denby II, MD, who were willing to take a chance on a big idea, and it’s a joy to reflect on just a few of the things we’ve accomplished together:

  • 300+ projects hiring hundreds of artists, designers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and makers
  • City, state, and business support for infrastructure with thirteen sculpture pads to support annual installation & dozens of walls to host murals
  • Relationships with community and businesses to create long-term partnerships for projects like the Weybosset Facade, a reimagined locally iconic landmark to become a go-to spot for seeing talented muralists adding color and storytelling and generating positive energy around an underutilized structure that this year will have featured fifteen artists.
  • Advocating for innovative solutions like our permanent lighting at signature mural sites, including Gaia’s Still Here, Garden of Journey’s Salt Water, and Bezt’s She Never Came.
  • Using art & design to create spaces for conversation with myriad fellows, interns, and partners exploring through projects like utility boxes creating a footpath through the city.
  • Connecting with thousands of young people and adults for exploration with curiosity through public art tours and by using materials and tools to explore the process of mark-making

Harnessing this momentum, TAC’s next leader will have the opportunity to have a bold vision, unrestrained by past obstacles. Like the rotating work on the legal graffiti wall in our yard, this transition won’t replace one vision with another. Instead, it will add new layers to our collective mosaic. The beauty of TAC is that it’s always been a collaborative effort, a shared dream beyond any single individual. Our next leader will bring their unique vision, and they’ll also inherit a strong foundation, a passionate team, and a community ready to support them.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and belief in the transformative power of art and for being part of this extraordinary adventure, then, now, and in our future.

Yarrow Thorne, Founder and Executive Director

Letter from Jamie Coelho, Board Chair

Dear Friends:

I am thrilled to be the Board Chair for The Avenue Concept during a very exciting time of growth and opportunity. Yarrow has been the driving force and vision, assembling talented teams and building this awe-inspiring public arts organization that has made vibrant murals and captivating sculptures an integral and vital part of the Providence cityscape. The time has come to expand and enhance the mission. With the experience and energy of a new leader, we can take TAC to new heights and multiply the positive effects across the state and beyond.

On behalf of the Avenue Concept board, I want to thank Yarrow for his ingenuity and passion for making Providence a more dynamic city through public art. While we are sad to see Yarrow transition away from the role of ED, we are very proud of what he has accomplished in just ten years and know that his influence will continue as the Founder for years to come.

Yarrow started the Avenue Concept from the ground up and now we can not imagine Providence without the beautiful murals and sculptures that have put the Creative Capital in the national spotlight. We are now known for having an incredible artistic atmosphere which matches its nickname as the home of Rhode Island School of Design. It’s one thing to say Providence is the Creative Capital, but Yarrow has contributed to that enormously.

The board and staff have worked hard on its mission to produce exceptional visual public art and experiences with artists and communities designed to inspire joy, dialogue, and inclusion.

Our new strategic plan outlines how to take that one step further by expanding and growing at a pace that we can sustain under new leadership. The next ED will continue to maintain the vision, foster the relationships we have built, and branch out to greater networks to collaborate across the community.

To help us find our next leader, the Avenue Concept formed a search committee and hired Eos Partners to guide the process. The board and staff are involved in the search, so we can work together to make sure we find the best potential candidate to step into Yarrow’s shoes. EOS Transition Partners has launched the search and will guide the process until the ideal candidate is found. In the meantime, Yarrow, the dedicated staff, and the active board at TAC will continue to help public art thrive in the Ocean State and continue joyful arts programming.

Eos Transition Partners consultant Erin Cox is managing this search. Position Details can be found on The Avenue Concept’s website at theavenueconcept.org/jobs and applications will be accepted through EOS Transition Partners application portal.

Jamie Coelho
Board Chair

Visit https://theavenueconcept.org/about/jobs/ for the ED Profile and information to apply.