Grant Park Festival chief to leave post for Art Institute after just one year

January 07, 2011

Elizabeth Hurley with Carlos Kalmar, principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival


Elizabeth Hurley, executive director of Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival, is leaving the post after just one year on the job.

Hurley, 48, will move south across Millennium Park to take a new position with the Art Institute of Chicago as vice-president for development, effective February 14.

“I’m very excited to be taking this job at the Art Institute,” Hurley said late Friday afternoon.

“This wasn’t something in my plans. But my husband and I discussed it over the holidays and I feel it’s the right opportunity.”

With the city facing daunting economic challenges, and Hurley leaving after a year on the job, the question inevitably arises as to whether her departure was a result of any projected cutbacks related to the festival or change in its venturesome programming.

Hurley said not, and that her move to the Art Institute was “absolutely a personal decision,” unrelated to festival funding concerns or any internal turmoil.

“The festival continues to have a close relationship with the Department of Cultural Affairs,” said Hurley. “We’re virtually finished with programming for next summer and it will be the same [challenging repertoire] as in the past.”

In a released statement, James Cuno, president and director of the Art Institute, said the organization was “thrilled” to have Hurley on board as development director.

“Elizabeth brings both vision and extensive experience to the museum, and her initiatives will be of the greatest importance to the future of the museum,” Cuno said. “Her deep roots in Chicago’s top-tier cultural organizations and her national fundraising experience are the perfect combination for the Art Institute, and we look forward to Elizabeth’s expertise and ideas as we forge ahead into 2011.”

In her new job, Hurley will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the museum’s fundraising, including the annual fund, major gifts, and planned and institutional giving.

“We are sorry to see Elizabeth depart after such a short time,” said Beth Rodriguez, president of the Grant Park Orchestral Association board of directors in a released statement “[B]ut she leaves the organization in great shape for the coming season.”

“We will miss Elizabeth this summer, but as our new neighbor to the south, we expect to see her frequently and wish her well.”

Prior to her Grant Park appointment, Hurley served as director of development at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and spent fifteen years at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where she was, most recently, the vice president of development from 2000 to 2005.

Details of the 2011 season of the Grant Park Music Festival will be announced in February.

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