5 minute read

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — This Festival of the Arts, one of the two biggest events every year by the Arts Council of Oklahoma City (ACOKC), will be the last for Peter Dolese as the executive director.

Dolese has been the executive director for 13 years and has served in some sort of capacity including volunteer for more than 40 years.

Angela Cozby (center in the feature photo) is taking the hand-off from Dolese during this busy time in the organization. She was introduced in the opening program Tuesday, the first day of the festival.

“Returning to ACOKC feels like coming home,” Cozby told Free Press. “I’ve received such a warm welcome from the volunteers, staff, and board. It truly is a dream to return to such a stellar, mission-driven arts organization and work alongside the incomparable Peter Dolese.”

An all-in approach for all of its leaders from top to bottom is a part of ACOKC’s DNA. So, to say there is some sort of sharp, one-day change-over is to miss the way this organization works.

Example: Dolese was able to tell me that because of the wind, they had to use all 500 water barrels they have plus rent 25 more to anchor the tents against the spring winds this week.

Dolese will continue to serve in the role of consultant to the organization into 2023.

Seth Lewis was hired to be the director of the festival in January 2021 for the uniquely-timed June festival and now is the director for his first April festival as the traditional timing and in-person framework is back from the disruptions of the pandemic.

Folkloric Latina dancers perform on the center stage on the first day of the OKC Festival of the Arts, April 2022. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Praise for Cozby

I rode with him in a golf cart from one place to another on the first day, and he talked about the depth of experience Cozby possessed.

Back when Dolese was the director of the festival, Cozby was his assistant director and learned the intricacies of the event and organization, said Dolese.

Then, she became the director of the festival from 2008 through 2014.

“The best executive directors, in my opinion, have run the festival before,” Dolese told me. “This is the kind of organization that if you don’t know how to run the Arts Festival [one is at a serious disadvantage].”

Festival of the Arts
Angela Cozby at the Festival of the Arts, 2022. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

“Angela Cozby will be a brilliant executive director,” Dolese said in an earlier prepared statement. “I can’t think of a more qualified or better person for the job than Angela. Her dedication to, and deep understanding of, Arts Council Oklahoma City are qualities that will help her take the organization to the next level while still retaining the deeply rooted culture of voluntarism and community arts programming that are at the core of what we do.”

Board leadership was just as enthusiastic about Cozby’s taking on the crucial role.

“After an exhaustive search, we are pleased to announce that Angela Cozby has accepted the position,” said ACOKC Board President Brian Alford (far right in feature photo.)

“Finding the right person was crucial. Arts Council Oklahoma City has been a beloved part of the fabric of Oklahoma’s arts community for more than half a century, and Peter has been a part of ACOKC for more than 40 years. He has dedicated his career to bringing the arts to Oklahomans, and we are so grateful for everything he’s done.”

Cozby was serving as vice president of research and operations for the Lynn Institute for Healthcare Research before being tapped for the position in ACOKC.

Praise for Dolese

After having work for and with Dolese for many years, Cozby pointed out in a statement Peter Dolese’s qualities as a devoted worker and leader of ACOKC.

Arts Festival
40-year veteran of all things Arts Council OKC, Peter Dolese gets a standing ovation from admirers at the opening ceremony for the Festival of the Arts, 2022. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

“Under the leadership of Peter Dolese, the organization has grown and thrived,” said Cozby in a prepared statement. “It is my honor to continue that tradition alongside a conscientious board, a talented staff and dedicated volunteers as we work together to enhance the local arts culture for all residents and visitors of Oklahoma City.”

The key to Dolese’s success seems to be his determination to see arts projects succeed in OKC without caring much about who gets things done or who gets the credit as long as they are done. It is a formula for success in just about any organization that depends on volunteers.

The festival continues through Sunday, April 24. For more information, visit artscouncilokc.com.

Last Updated April 21, 2022, 1:37 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor