This Reader Dedicated to Tommer

Janet Brown

It is extremely fitting that we dedicate this issue of the Reader, which celebrates twenty-five years of publication in 2014, to Tommer Peterson, Reader coeditor and deputy director and director of programs for GIA. He will be retiring at the end of 2014 after fourteen years at GIA. His talents as an editor, program developer, graphic designer, visual artist, playwright, diplomat, people wrangler, conference coordinator, deadline policeman, and humorist have helped GIA become a well-respected association serving the entire arts philanthropic community.

He has been a champion of realizing GIA’s mission in establishing that our work serve all grantmakers, the nonprofit arts sector, and the public. This philosophy provides the underpinning for a website where research and publications can be accessed by anyone, and a public news feed where current information is posted on our home page and Facebook page and tweeted to our “followers.” While we are always grateful to our members, who receive specific benefits for their support, our mission is to reach all arts funders who are supporting artists and arts organizations, thereby “supporting a Creative America.”

Tommer has also been a spirited supporter of the Reader and its continuation as a printed publication. Although you can obtain the Reader in digital form on our website, or download the ePub edition directly to your notebook, iPad, or Kindle, you can also get a copy in the mail. Through generous support from members, we have intentionally kept the cost of the Reader affordable. For only $36 a year, anyone can subscribe. The Reader is also sent to a number of libraries, arts administration programs, and other cultural institutions that collect and catalog it as a resource.

Two other areas that have felt Tommer’s mark are our research projects and the diversity of artists, speakers, and presenters at our conferences. Tommer has guided the “Foundation Grants to Arts and Culture” annual report from the Foundation Center and complemented it with public funding reports from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. He has committed considerable energy to creating a new national standard taxonomy and collection process to aggregate data on support for individual artists. His behind-the-scenes work at the conference has assured that GIA’s keynoters, presenters, and artists reflect the diversity of issues and ethnicities of our communities. An expert at knowing, finding, and seeking out unique voices, Tommer has demonstrated that values of racial equity can be fulfilled through intentional and consistent practice.

People leave lasting legacies at institutions. Most of those legacies are not specific programs or forms or ways of operation. Most are harder to define . . . an openness, a demand for diversity and inclusion, a sense of fairness, a desire for excellence, thoroughness, and truth. These are some of the qualities Tommer has left with GIA. Through his tenure with first executive director Ann Focke into my time as president and CEO, Tommer has maintained these values and upheld them with every conference, program, and Reader he has worked on. He will be missed, but he has left behind values that will stay with the organization for years to come. Thank you, Tommer.