ARAC names Drew Digby as new Executive Director

Following an extensive search, the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council has named Drew Digby as its next Executive Director. He is currently an Economic and Strategy Analyst for the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

Digby becomes the fifth Executive Director of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council since 1979, when the Council began hiring staff. In this position, he will provide direction and leadership toward the achievement of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council’s vision and mission to facilitate and encourage local arts development. The Executive Director leads the organization’s professional staff, oversees grant program administration, financial and data reporting to the Minnesota State Arts Board and The McKnight Foundation, and serves as staff liaison with the Forum of Regional Arts Councils of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and The McKnight Foundation. He begins at ARAC on July 11, 2017.

“The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council is excited to welcome Drew Digby as the new ARAC Executive Director,” said Tara Makinen, Chair of the Council. “Drew’s professional experience shows a passion for doing work that demonstrates that local art has the capacity to strengthen our region’s quality of life and economy. Not only is he passionate, but he has the skills to work with artists across the region, build new partnerships and manage ARAC’s complex financial and data reporting.”

“Art is contributing dramatically to the success of this region and I hope to help build on the vital role that the Arts Council has played in supporting artists and arts organizations in this region,” said Digby. “The arts will continue to lead in the revitalization of every part of our region while at the same time our artists will get more and more national recognition for the excellence and significance of their work. I’m very excited to do this work.”


A Career Dedicated to the Arts and Understanding Communities

Drew Digby has worked for the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board for four years. As the Economic and Strategy Analyst at the IRRRB, Digby is responsible for understanding the broad economy and social measures in Northern Minnesota and then translating that into actionable steps for this state economic development agency. His priorities included making arts and creative culture a key component of economic development, including writing a strategy plan for the Recharge the Range Creative Communities group. He served on the planning team for the first ever Cool and Creative Get Together that brought 130 representatives of organizations that represent the arts, culture, history, local food, healthy communities, and funding organizations to talk about how to create more vibrant communities. He also served as the agency’s liaison to a variety of arts, culture, and philanthropic groups around the state. The IRRRB’s mission is to promote workforce, community, and economic development in Northeastern Minnesota.  
Prior to his working with the IRRRB, he was the Special Projects and Long Term Recovery Manager for St. Louis County, Carlton County, and the United Way of Greater Duluth. In that role, he developed and coordinated a network of more than 20 nonprofit and government agencies that secured more than $20 million in grants and loans to help individuals and families recover from the June, 2012, flooding across Northeast Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin.   
Digby was also the Regional Analyst for the Department of Employment and Economic Development and was an instructor of Journalism, History, and Advocacy and Political Leadership at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He ran a pop-up art gallery in Duluth called Studio 3 that had a successful run including the WTF! Feminist Art show that included works from more than 80 artists. He has also run a consulting business that helps artists with career and business strategies. 

An active participant in civic life, Digby served on the Imagine Duluth 2035, Vision Committee; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Community Advisory Board for Duluth and Superior; as president of the City of Duluth’s Planning Commission; as well as worked with local arts organizations as a volunteer and/or board member.  

Digby holds an ABD and MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, as well as a BA in Religious Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.