What is happening to Folk Art Market leadership?


As longtime volunteers and supporters of the International Folk Art Market, we were disappointed and saddened, yet strangely not terribly surprised, at the recent news of Melissa Mann’s departure as market CEO. This is the fourth CEO of the market in recent years and the third consecutive leader who has left the position after a brief tenure. For any healthy organization, the logical question to ask is: “What is going on between the board and staff that causes this level of turnover?”

Mann was exceptionally skilled at managing the plethora of challenges IFAM presents, including fundraising, staff development, outreach to the community and dealing with the hundreds of issues that arise during market. She managed all of that with a wonderful air of constant support to her staff and uplifting spirit. Adding to the annual challenges was the recent herculean effort to move away from Museum Hill to the Santa Fe Railyard in the center of town.

Naturally there were glitches, but they were drowned out by the tsunami of great acclaim. Importantly, the market broke attendance, sales and revenue records. Most importantly, the average take-home revenue for each artist was the highest it has been. Yet still Mann found it untenable to stay.

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