Less than a week after a controversial job posting came to light, the chief executive officer of Newfields in Indianapolis has resigned. In a statement posted Wednesday to the museum’s website, the Newfields Board of Trustees and Board of Governors said the resignation of Charles Venable is necessary for the museum “to become the cultural institution our community needs and deserves.”
Newfields Chief Financial Officer Jerry Wise will serve as interim president of Newfields until a permanent successor is found.
The museum came under fire last weekend after a job posting was discovered that listed “maintaining the Museum’s traditional, core, white art audience” as part of the position’s duties. The posting was later changed to remove the word “white.”
An online petition was created calling for Venable’s removal and various changes to the museum’s leadership makeup. The petition garnered more than 2,000 signatures.
“We are sorry. We have made mistakes. We have let you down,” the boards said in their statement. “We are ashamed of Newfields’ leadership and of ourselves. We have ignored, excluded, and disappointed members of our community and staff. We pledge to do better. For those expressing outrage and frustration—we are listening.”
In addition to Venable’s resignation, the boards listed additional actions it plans to take:
- The museum will engage an independent committee to conduct a review of Newfields’ leadership, culture, and both boards, “with the goal of inclusively representing our community and its full diversity.”
- The museum plans to review and expand its current admission policy to include additional free or reduced-fee days.
- The museum plans to form a city-wide community advisory committee that consists of artists, activists, and members of communities of color “whose primary function is to hold leadership accountable to these goals.”
- The museum will also expand curatorial representations of exhibitions and programming from Black, Latinx, Indigenous, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ artists.
- Newfields staff, volunteers and board members will take part in ongoing anti-racist training.
“As we guide the organization through this crucial process, we will listen to and partner with members of the community,” the boards said. “Newfields is yours and we pledge to make the necessary changes to ensure we can regain your trust and respect. We commit to being held accountable, as we hold the institution accountable, to ensure that Newfields is diverse, equitable, accessible and inclusive.”
The boards say they will publicly share a detailed action plan for each of their commitments within the next 30 days.